Al Qaeda killings show growing competence of Iraqi Army
Iraqi Army is being credited for finding and killing two top figures with Al Qaeda in Iraq, including leader Abu Ayyub al-Masri.
The US is heralding the killing of two top al-Qaeda leaders in Iraq as a reflection of just how mature Iraqi security forces - including the Iraqi Army - are becoming, suggesting the incident could be hugely significant to the future security of Iraq. But some experts are still taking a wait-and-see approach.Skip to next paragraph
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News reports of the deaths of senior militant leaders in Iraq, Afghanistan, or elsewhere rarely draw immediate confirmation and then praise from the US military and other government leaders. But it appeared that, as the US confronts drawing down its forces during the next four months, it was ready to trumpet the news.
'Iraqis have taken the lead'
Mr. Biden said the capture represents the changing character of the Iraqi security forces, based on their own intelligence gleaned from a capture of another Al Qaeda leader recently.
“In short, the Iraqis have taken the lead in securing Iraq and its citizens by taking out both of these individuals,” Biden said.
In another rare public statement, Gen. David Petraeus, head of US Central Command, echoed Biden's conclusions: “Their deaths constitute another major milestone in the effort to defeat extremism in Iraq.”
Mr. Masri replaced Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was killed in 2006, as leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq. Mr. Baghdadi, whom the Iraqi government has twice pronounced killed, was the self-proclaimed leader of the Islamic State of Iraq, a group of several insurgent organizations.