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Monday, April 28, 2008       Free Headline Alerts

U.S. air strikes kill Al Qaida commanders in car, safe house

BAGHDAD — The U.S. military has killed two regional commanders of Al Qaida in Iraq.

U.S. aircraft tracked and killed the Al Qaida commander in the Salah Eddin province on April 26, officials said. They identified the operative as Mohammed Muzahem Al Harbouni, Middle East Newsline reported.

"He was a leading Al Qaida terrorist in the region," an official said.

Officials said Al Harbouni and three of his lieutenants, one of them a Saudi national, were killed in the air strike. They said the Al Qaida squad was traveling in a car that was tracked and targeted by U.S. aircraft about 25 kilometers east of Samara.

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At the same time, another regional Al Qaida commander was killed near the Iraqi city of Tikrit. Officials said U.S. aircraft bombed an Al Qaida safe house, which killed Abdullah Al Ajili and an aide. They said Al Ajili was a leading Al Qaida operative and recruiter in the Tikrit region.

The U.S. military has sought to sustain operations against Al Qaida in northern Iraq. On Sunday, the military said 27 Al Qaida operatives in Baghdad and Mosul were arrested. Several of the insurgents were said to have been senior members of Al Qaida.

Still, Al Qaida has bolstered suicide operations around Baghdad. On Sunday, Al Qaida was believed to have detonated a suicide car bomb next to a soccer stadium in the Iraqi capital. At least three people were killed.

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