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U.S. Says Iraqi Forces Kill Senior Al-Qaeda Leader

BAGHDAD (Reuters) -- Iraqi security forces supported by U.S. firepower killed a senior Al-Qaeda leader who made car bombs and ran Islamist militant cells throughout northern Iraq, the U.S. military said on November 7.

A statement said the Iraqi Army and members of a U.S.- backed Sunni Arab neighbourhood patrol shot Abu Ghazwan as he hid in the grass near a house they were searching on November 6 in Tarmiya, north of Baghdad.

The patrol had been attacked with guns and a bomb in the house.

"While further searching the area, a [neighbourhood patrol] member discovered a trail booby-trapped with grenades and an identified individual lying in the grass...Ghazwan was killed as a result of...small arms fire," the statement said.

U.S. forces later determined the dead man was the wanted militant who had been involved in financing Al-Qaeda operations and recruiting child soldiers, the statement said.

Al-Qaeda militants have been in retreat since Sunni Arab tribal leaders turned against them and formed U.S.-backed neighbourhood patrols that drove the Sunni Islamist group out of strongholds in western Iraq and Baghdad.

But they have kept a presence in northern Iraq and have shown themselves still capable of staging large-scale attacks.