BAGHDAD (AP) -- The two top al-Qaida in Iraq figures have been killed in a joint operation by American and local forces, Iraq's prime minister and U.S. military officials said Monday.
The deaths were touted by America's top general in Iraq as possibly the most significant blow to the terror group since the beginning of the insurgency and a sign of the growing strength of Iraqi security forces.
But the news, which comes as U.S. forces prepare to end combat operations, belies the resiliency of Sunni terror groups that have shown their ability to change tactics and launch new and deadly attacks despite repeated strikes to their leadership.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki announced the killings of Abu Omar al-Baghdadi and Abu Ayyub al-Masri at a news conference in Baghdad and showed reporters photographs of their bloody corpses. The deaths were later confirmed by U.S. military officials in a statement.