If the deaths are confirmed they could mark a significant success over al-Qaeda, which has been blamed for a wave of violence across the country.

"The death of these two terrorists is a potentially devastating blow to al Qaeda in Iraq," the US forces in Iraq said in a statement.

The Iraqi government has previously claimed to have captured or killed Baghdadi on several occasions and the US military has even questioned whether he is an actual person or a fabricated figurehead.

Baghdadi was last claimed to have been killed last April, but the Islamic State of Iraq denied the claim and said he was "fine", the SITE Intelligence Group said, according a statement released on internet forums on May 11, 2009.