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maliki - pictures al qaeda leaders killedUS and Iraqi forces have killed another al-Qaeda leader in northern Iraq, officials say.

Ahmed al-Obeidi died in an operation in the northern province of Nineveh, Iraqi military spokesman Maj Gen Qassim al-Moussawi said.

The news comes the day after the government announced two leading militants had been killed.

Iraqi al-Qaeda leader Abu Ayyub al-Masri and Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, who led an affiliate group, died on Sunday.

Gen Moussawi said Mr Obeidi, known by the name Abu Suhaib, was in charge of al-Qaeda in Iraq’s operations in the provinces of Kirkuk, Salahuddin and Nineveh.

Election appeal

Al-Qaeda in Iraq has been blamed for some of the bloodiest insurgent attacks in the country since the US-led invasion of 2003.

But since early 2007 the US has adopted a more proactive policy in confronting insurgents in Iraq and undermining their support within the Sunni community.

The sectarian strife on which the Sunni insurgents thrived also died away as coalition and Iraqi government forces moved to curb Shia militias, correspondents say.

The US is hoping to begin a withdrawal of its forces in August this year.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Nouri Maliki is currently contesting the results of the 7 March election, which was narrowly won by former PM Iyad Allawi.

Election officials have ordered a manual recount of votes cast in Baghdad after complaints from Mr Maliki that the electronic system of counting was unreliable.

The recount could alter the final result of the poll.

Photo: Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki holds a paper displaying photographs of a man the Iraqi government claims to be al-Qaida leader Abu Omar al-Baghdadi at a news conference in Baghdad, Iraq, Monday, April 19, 2010

BBC

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