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Combined Operation Kills al-Qaida in Iraq Leader

American Forces Press Service

BAGHDAD, Nov. 7, 2008 – A senior al-Qaida in Iraq leader was killed yesterday during a combined cache-clearing operation by Iraqi security forces and a “Sons of Iraq” citizen security group, supported by coalition forces, military officials reported.

Abu Ghazwan, a key link in the network operations for al-Qaida in Iraq, was killed during the cache-site raid in the Tarmiyah area, north of Baghdad, officials said.

Coalition officials said Ghazwan commanded numerous terrorist cells in the Taji and Tarmiyah areas, and advised and financed other terrorist cells throughout northern Iraq and was responsible for building and facilitating vehicle bombs in the Baghdad area.

Additionally, officials said, he was responsible for other terrorist groups that recruit and train children and females to conduct suicide attacks against Iraqi and coalition forces.

Based on tips from local citizens about possible enemy activities and caches at three locations, the combined forces moved to the areas to investigate. They found nothing at the first location and moved on to the second location, where they detained a suspected Ghazwan associate who was wanted on an Iraqi warrant. The patrol also found a cache consisting of various ammunition rounds, knives, gun powder and a small amount of plastic explosives.

The patrol then moved to a house in a third location. An explosion detonated behind it, followed by small-arms fire. The patrol returned fire. Two Sons of Iraq members were wounded in the explosion, officials said.

While searching the area, a Sons of Iraq member found a trail booby-trapped with grenades and an unidentified man hiding in grass. The man showed no movement or response to the patrol's commands, and it was later determined he was Ghazwan and that he was killed by Sons of Iraq and Iraqi army small-arms fire, officials said.

Coalition forces positively identified Ghazwan, and his body was turned over to the Iraqi army.

“[The combined force’s efforts] show the strategic partnership and commitment to providing a safe and secure environment for the Iraqi people," Army Col. Bill Buckner, a Multinational Corps Iraq spokesman, said. "This terrorist and those who work for him have no regard for human lives and don't care about the welfare of Iraq or its people."

(From a Multinational Corps Iraq news release.)

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