According to U.S. and Iraqi officials, two leaders of the al-Qaida movement were killed in an air strike on Saturday, UPI said.
The top commander of U.S. troops in Iraq, Gen. Ray Odierno, issued a statement identifying the dead as Abu Ayyub al-Masri, the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, and Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, believed to have led al-Qaida's Iraqi affiliate, the Islamic State of Iraq. The two bodies were found dead in a ditch.
The death of al-Masri could cause havoc in a connection between the leaders of al-Qaida and the radical Sunni Muslim group, however, the Miami Herald says the identity of al-Baghdadi is not 100 percent clear.
If his identity is confirmed, the deaths of these two men, Vice President Joe Biden said they are, "potentially devastating blows," but also important to Biden, "is this action demonstrates the improved security, strength and capacity of Iraqi security forces." Biden is quoted as saying that the Iraqi army led the operation.
An American soldier was killed during the operation and three others were injured when their helicopter crashed during the raid. The U.S. military stated that the aircraft was not brought down by enemy fire, and it is investigating the cause of the crash, the Miami Herald said.