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Al-Qaeda Group Confirms Death Of Iraq Commanders

Al-Qaeda in Iraq has confirmed the deaths of two top commanders a week after their deaths were announced by U.S. and Iraqi authorities.

Abu Omar al-Baghdadi and Abu Ayub al-Masri, who had direct links with Osama bin Laden, were killed in a shootout on April 18.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has said that their deaths mean a major threat to the nation's security had been removed.

The SITE Intelligence Group, an organization that tracks the online activity of terrorist organizations, said that the Islamic State of Iraq, Al-Qaeda's front in the country, confirmed the deaths in a statement posted on jihadist Internet forums.

"After a long journey filled with sacrifice and fighting falsehood and its representatives, two knights have dismounted to join the group of martyrs," the statement said. "We announce that the Muslim nation has lost two of the leaders of jihad, and two of its men, who are only known as heroes on the path of jihad."

Compiled from agency reports