Iraqi Mosul al Qaeda leader killed


Aug 2, 2007

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- The Mosul leader of al Qaeda in Iraq was shot to death by Iraqi soldiers during a combat operation in the northern Iraqi city Wednesday, a U.S. military statement said.

It comes as the U.S. records its lowest monthly troop death toll since November, reflecting military hopes that the recent military buildup is making strides.

Iraqi soldiers spotted al Qaeda's emir of Mosul -- known as Safi -- riding in a pickup truck in northeastern Mosul and began chasing his vehicle, the military said in a statement released Thursday.

After pulling over, Safi and two bodyguards emerged from the truck and opened fire on the soldiers, but they were shot dead, the military said.

"The death of Safi will further disrupt senior AQI leadership in Mosul, which has been unstable since May, due to the combined efforts of Coalition Forces and ISF (Iraqi security forces) offensive operations," said U.S. Army Col. Stephen Twitty, commander of 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division.

Meanwhile, a suicide bombing targeting a police station in Iraq's volatile Diyala province on Thursday has killed five people and wounded seven others, the Interior Ministry told CNN.

Police and civilians were among the victims in the incident, which took place in the town of Hibhib.

On Tuesday, six U.S. soldiers were killed in Iraq, bringing the total death toll for July to 79, the lowest figure since November.

However, the figure is nearly twice as high as the July 2006 troop death toll -- 43 fatalities -- a sign of the persistent violence in the long conflict.

Two Task Force Marne soldiers were killed and 10 were wounded in an indirect fire attack Tuesday, the military said on Thursday.

Three U.S. soldiers were killed and six wounded when a bomb exploded near their combat patrol in eastern Baghdad, the military said on Wednesday.

The bomb was the type known as an explosively formed penetrator, which the military said is a more powerful and sophisticated version of a roadside bomb.

The military has said that parts for the weapon come from Iran, are assembled in Iraq, where they are used by militants.

A soldier "was killed by small arms fire during combat" in eastern Baghdad on Tuesday.

Death toll numbers come from a CNN count of Pentagon figures.

The increase in troop deaths began last August, when there were 65 deaths.

In September there were 72; in October, 106; in November, 70; and in December 112.

This year began with 83 troop deaths January and 81 in both February and March. Spring then brought the worst three-month period for U.S. troop deaths since the war began: 104 in April, 126 in May and 101 in June.

The total number of U.S. troop deaths in the Iraq war is 3,658.

Other developments

• On Wednesday, Iraq's largest Sunni political bloc, the Iraqi Accord Front, left the Cabinet, after claims they were "marginalized". The move is likely further cripple the embattled Shiite-dominated government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

• Wednesday also saw a wave of bombings shook Baghdad and left dozens of people dead. At least 50 people were killed and 60 wounded when a fuel tanker packed with explosives detonated at a gas station in the western part of the city.

• Earlier Wednesday, at least 15 people were killed and 20 others were wounded when a suicide car bomb exploded in a busy square in Baghdad's Karrada district, the Interior Ministry said.

• In the capital's southern district of Dora on Wednesday, another car bomb killed three people and wounded five others, the Interior Ministry said. And another car bomb in a commercial area in western Baghdad's Harthiya neighborhood killed one person and wounded seven, the ministry said