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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Leader of Al-Qaida in Iraq Killed

BAGHDAD --The leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, Abu Ayyub al-Masri, was killed Tuesday in an internal fight between insurgents north of Baghdad, an Iraqi Interior Ministry spokesman said.

Brigadier General Abdul Kareem Khalaf said, "We have definite intelligence reports that al-Masri was killed today."

Another source in the ministry said Masri had been killed. Khalaf said the battle had happened near a bridge in the small town of al-Nibayi, north of Baghdad. Both Khalaf and the other source in the ministry said the authorities did not have Masri's body.

The U.S. military said it could not confirm the reports.

"I hope that it is true, but we want to be very careful to make sure," said Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Garver, a spokesman for the U.S. military in Iraq.

There has been increasing friction between Sunni Islamist al-Qaida and other Sunni Arab insurgent groups, particularly over al-Qaida's indiscriminate killing of civilians in Iraq.

Masri, who is also known as Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, assumed the leadership of al-Qaida in Iraq after Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed in a U.S. air strike in June 2006.

Masri, an Egyptian, has been described by the U.S. military as a former close Zarqawi associate who trained in Afghanistan and formed al-Qaida's first cell in Baghdad.

The United States has a $5 million bounty on Masri's head.