World News

Biden: Iraqi killings devastating blow to Qaeda

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Vice President Joe Biden on Monday said the killings of al Qaeda leaders in Iraq was a potentially “devastating” blow to the group.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said earlier that an Iraqi intelligence team had found and killed al Qaeda’s leader in Iraq, Abu Ayyub al-Masri. Maliki said the team had also killed Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, the purported leader of al Qaeda’s local affiliate, the Islamic State of Iraq.

“Their deaths are potentially devastating blows to al Qaeda Iraq,” Biden told reporters.

“But equally important in my view is this action demonstrates the improved security strength and capacity of Iraqi security forces,” Biden said. “The Iraqis led this operation, and it was based on intelligence the Iraqi security forces themselves developed following their capture of a senior AQI leader last month.”

Biden said an American soldier was killed while supporting the counterterrorism operation. He called the soldier, who was not named, a “young hero.”

Reporting by Tabassum Zakaria, Editing by Sandra Maler