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Three al-Qaida insurgents killed in Iraq

April 20, 2010 at 1:07 PM

BAGHDAD, April 20 (UPI) -- Three senior al-Qaida members were killed by Iraqi and U.S. forces in Iraq over the past days, officials said.

An Iraqi military spokesman Tuesday announced the death of Ahmed al-Obeidi, BBC News reports.

The leader of al-Qaida operations in the provinces of Kirkuk, Salahuddin and Nineveh died in an operation in northern Iraq, the spokesman said.

The news comes a day after Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki announced the deaths of Abu Ayyub al-Masri and Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, two top insurgents, on state television.

Al-Masri succeeded Abu Musab al-Zarqawi as the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq and was killed Sunday in a firefight with Iraqi and U.S. troops. An American soldier died in the battle.

Maliki said the troops seized computers with e-mail sent to Osama bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri.

U.S. Army Gen. Ray Odierno, the top commander of U.S. troops in Iraq called the death of the militants "potentially the most significant blow to al-Qaida in Iraq since the beginning of the insurgency."

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden lauded Iraqi security forces for their growing ability to perform complex operations.

"The Iraqis led this operation," Biden said in Washington. "In short, the Iraqis have taken the lead."

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