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US Military Says It is Closer to Capturing Al-Qaida's Leader in Iraq

04 May 2006

The U.S. military says it is closer to capturing al-Qaida's leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

A military spokesman made the remark Thursday in Baghdad, following the recovery of documents and an unedited copy of an al-Zarqawi video that aired last week on international television.

U.S. Major General Rick Lynch mocked al-Zarqawi while playing unedited video showing the terrorist wearing a black uniform and American-made running shoes. The video also shows him struggling to fire an automatic weapon.

General Lynch said U.S. forces discovered the video in April in a series of raids south of Baghdad, near Yousifiyah. He described the area as a planning and staging post for insurgent suicide attacks.

Meanwhile, Iraqi police say at least nine people were killed and more than 40 others wounded in a suicide bombing outside a courthouse in Baghdad.

Hours earlier, an Iraqi general was shot dead in the capital as he drove to work.

To the west, the U.S. military says coalition forces killed eight insurgents after coming under heavy fire in Ramadi. Iraqi medics and police in Ramadi say 13 people were killed in what they described as a U.S. airstrike.

Separately, the U.S. military says two American soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb in the capital.

In Washington, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said he expects the United States to be able to reduce its troops levels in Iraq once the new government takes office. Prime Minister-designate Nouri al-Maliki has until May 21 to submit a cabinet to the Iraqi parliament for approval.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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