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U.S. Says Senior Al-Qaeda Leader In Iraq Killed

BAGHDAD (Reuters) -- U.S. forces have said they killed the second-in-command of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, a Sunni Islamist militant group that is allied to Osama bin Laden's organization.

The military said it had identified the militant, named Abu Qaswarah, this week after he was killed in a raid in Mosul on October 5. It described him as the leader of Al-Qaeda in northern Iraq and its second-ranking national leader.

"Abu Qaswarah's death will cause a major disruption to the Al-Qaeda network," U.S. military spokesman Rear Admiral Patrick Driscoll said.

He said Abu Qaswarah, a native of Morocco also known as Abu Sara, had trained in Afghanistan and oversaw militants in northern Iraq who came from other countries.

Mosul, some 390 kilometers north of Baghdad, remains one of Iraq's most restive areas even as violence has dropped dramatically across the country.

U.S. and Iraqi forces have been conducting operations to root out remaining militants in the ethnically mixed city.

The U.S. military says Al-Qaeda has chosen to make a stand in the city after being driven out of other parts of Iraq.

Al-Qaeda and allied groups once controlled many of Iraq's Sunni Arab areas but have been driven from towns and villages in the west of the country and Baghdad neighborhoods.

Violence across Iraq is at four-year lows, but Washington still blames Al-Qaeda for suicide bombs and car bombs that frequently target civilians and Iraqi security forces.