US military says al-Qaeda No 2 in Iraq has been killed

Other News Materials 15 October 2008 19:59 (UTC +04:00)

The US military claimed on Wednesday that a non- Iraqi individual known as Abu Qaswarah, believed to be the second-in- command of al-Qaeda in Iraq, has been killed, reported dpa.

A US military statement said that the body of Abu Qaswarah, also known as Abu Sara, was positively identified after a raid in the northern-Iraqi city of Mosul on October 5.

Abu Qaswarah, a Moroccan, is believed to have organised the movement of foreign fighters into Iraq, that subsequently went on to carry out suicide bombings in the cities of Tel Afar and Mosul.

Meanwhile Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki met with President Jalal Talabani and vice-presidents Tariq al-Hashimi and Adil Abdel Mahdi on Wednesday to discuss the final draft of a security agreement with the US, Ali al-Dabbagh, spokesman of the Iraqi government said.

The Iraqi officials have met on the second day of a series of meetings, begun on Tuesday, to reach a consensus over the security deal.

The security pact, known as the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) would establish a legal basis for the presence of US soldiers in Iraq after a United Nations mandate expires at end of this year.

The controversial pact has been discussed by both the Iraqi and US sides since March.

The pact, seen by many as legalizing US-led occupation of Iraq and a violation of Iraqi sovereignty has been rejected by many Iraqi politicians and lawmakers.

On Friday al-Maliki is scheduled to discuss the draft with the National Security Council, a consultative body that includes himself, Talabani, the vice presidents, leaders of political blocs and the parliament speaker, al-Dabbagh told Voices of Iraq (VOI) news agency.

If members of the council agree, al-Maliki will submit the draft to his cabinet for their approval by two-thirds majority. The final step will be parliament's approval.

If Iraq's various executive councils and parliament do not approve the deal, options include "a new UN Security Council resolution legally authorizing the extension of the US footprint" or "an informal agreement between the US and Iraqis," an unnamed senior Bush administration official told CNN on Wednesday.