US: Deaths of al-Qaeda leaders in Iraq potentially devastating
The killings of al-Qaeda's top leaders in Iraq during an overnight operation carried out by US and Iraqi forces are "potentially devastating blows" to the terrorist network in the country, US Vice President Joe Biden said Monday, dpa reported.
US and Iraqi authorities confirmed that Abu Ayyub al-Masri, al- Qaeda's top figurehead in Iraq, along with senior leader Sheikh Abu Omar al-Baghdadi were killed near Tikrit in Salah al-Din province.
Biden attributed the success to improved capabilities of Iraqi security forces and said the operation was based on intelligence gathered by the Iraqis following the arrest of another al-Qaeda leader last month.
"Their deaths are potentially devastating blows to al Qaeda- Iraq," Biden said, calling it an "extremely important" development.
Biden, who leads the White House effort on Iraq, said the security gains must be met with political progress and urged the parties to form a government that is inclusive of Iraq's ethnic and religious groups following March elections.
"To consolidate these security gains and to honour the sacrifice that so many have made, it's now incumbent upon Iraqis' political leaders ... to form an inclusive and representative government that meets the needs and aspirations of the Iraqi people," he said.