Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki announced Monday that two major al-Qaida figures in Iraq, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi and Abu Ayyub al-Masri, were killed by American and Iraqi forces Sunday morning.

U.S. Army Gen. Ray Odierno, the top-ranking American military official in Iraq, said in a statement that the death of al-Baghdadi and al-Masri “is potentially the most significant blow to al-Qaida in Iraq since the beginning of the insurgency.” –KA

The New York Times:

After Mr. Maliki’s press conference, the American military released a statement verifying that Mr. Baghdadi was killed in a joint raid between Iraqi and United States forces in the dark hours of Sunday morning near Tikrit, near Saddam Hussein’s hometown.

Also killed, according to Mr. Maliki and American officials, was Abu Ayyub al-Masri, the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq, also known as Al Qeada in Mesopotamia, a largely Iraqi group that includes some foreign leadership.

Both men were found in a hole in the ground.

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