June 8th, 2006 03:17 EST
Coalition Forces Kill Top Terrorist in Iraq
Jordanian terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi died in an air strike north of Baghdad yesterday evening, U.S. officials have confirmed.
Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr., commander of Multinational Force Iraq, announced Zarqawi's death during a press conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad today.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, coalition forces killed al Qaeda terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and one of his key lieutenants, spiritual advisor Sheik Abd-Al-Rahman, yesterday, June 7, at 6:15 p.m. in an air strike against an identified, isolated safe house," Casey said.
Tips and intelligence led forces to Zarqawi and some of his associates who were conducting a meeting approximately eight kilometers north of Baqubah when the air strike was launched, Casey said.
"Iraqi police were first on the scene after the air strike, and elements of Multinational Division North arrived shortly thereafter. Coalition Forces were able to identify Zarqawi by fingerprint verification, facial recognition and known scars," he said.
Zarqawi and al Qaeda in Iraq have conducted terrorist activities against the Iraqi people for years in attempts to undermine the Iraqi national government and coalition efforts to rebuild and stabilize Iraq, U.S. officials in Iraq said. He is known to be responsible for the deaths of thousands of Iraqis.
"Zarqawi's death is a significant blow to al Qaeda and another step toward defeating terrorism in Iraq," U.S. officials said in a statement.
"Although the designated leader of al Qaeda in Iraq is now dead, the terrorist organization still poses a threat as its members will continue to try to terrorize the Iraqi people and destabilize their government as it moves toward stability and prosperity," Casey said. "Iraqi forces, supported by the coalition, will continue to hunt terrorists that threaten the Iraqi people until terrorism is eradicated in Iraq."
Source: US Dept. of Defense