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Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi (AFP) June 11, 2006 -- Iran says it is happy that the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi, is dead.


But Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Assefi denied reports that Iran had exchanged intelligence with the United States ahead of the U.S. air strike that killed al-Zarqawi on June 7.


Al-Zarqawi was the most feared insurgent leader in Iraq, thought to be responsible for some of the bloodiest attacks on Shi'ite civilians.


Assefi said it was natural that Iranians, like Iraqis, should be happy to see al-Zarqawi removed from the scene.


Iran, a predominantly Shi'ite country, has close ties with Iraq's Shi'ite parties, which now dominate Iraq's government and which Zarqawi sought to topple.


(AP)

Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi

Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi(undated AFP file photo)

COMMITTED TO TERROR: Jordan-born Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi has been among the most visible and ruthless leaders of Iraq's post-Saddam Hussein insurgency. In a tape released earlier this month, al-Zaqawi called on Iraqi Sunnis to fight against Shi'a and labeled Shi'ite spiritual leader Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani an "atheist."
Insurgents loyal to Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi's Al-Qaeda-affiliated organization have regained control over much of Al-Anbar Governorate, and are posing a major challenge to U.S. and Iraqi forces. A local security force established by tribesmen under an agreement with the U.S. military has all but ceased operating, after nearly a dozen tribal leaders were assassinated in revenge attacks by insurgents loyal to al-Zarqawi's Mujahedin Shura Council since January. Local tribal leaders now say they are afraid to be seen associating with U.S. forces, lest they be targeted by insurgents....(more)


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THE COMPLETE PICTURE: Click on the image to see RFE/RL's complete coverage of events in Iraq and that country's ongoing transition.

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