Middle East
US claims Iraqi Qaeda leader death
Military says second-in-command of al-Qaeda in northern Iraq killed in Mosul raid.
Last Modified: 15 Oct 2008 14:52 GMT

The US military claims to have killed the second-in-command of al-Qaeda in northern Iraq, in an operation in the city of Mosul.

In a  statement on Wednesday, the military reported the death of Abu Qaswarah, a Moroccan also known as Abu Sara, saying he was killed in a raid in Mosul on October 5.

The military said that said that Abu Qaswarah was shot during a raid on a "key command and control location" for al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Rear-admiral Patrick Driscoll, a US military spokesman, said: "Abu Qaswarah's death will cause a major disruption to the al-Qaeda network."

He said that Abu Qaswarah had trained in Afghanistan and oversaw fighters in northern Iraq who came from other countries.

According to the US military, Abu Qaswarah became the second-in-command of al-Qaeda in northern Iraq in June 2007 and had "historic ties to AQI [Al Qaeda in Iraq]founder Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and senior al-Qaeda leaders in Afghanistan and Pakistan".

Al-Qaeda in Iraq is a group allied to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda organisation.

Mass graves

Also on Wednesday, Iraqi police found the bodies of 22 men in a mass grave in southern Iraq, police and hospital sources said.

The men were said to have been shepherds and their corpses were already decomposing when they were found.

They were discovered in a deserted area west of Kerbala, a holy Shia city, about 80km southwest of Baghdad.

Abdul-Rahman Mshawi, a police spokesman in Kerbala, said: "Some were blindfolded, others were handcuffed. They went missing in late 2007 and their families have identified them."

A doctor at Kerbala's al-Husseini hospital said some of the men had been shot and others had been stabbed.

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