Baghdad: The US and Iraqi troops have killed or arrested at least six suspected al Qaeda leaders allegedly involved in an extortion and assassination ring in northern Iraq, the US military said.
The suspected militants were killed or arrested in security operations from March 18 to 24 in Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad and an al Qaeda stronghold, it said in a statement late on Thursday.
The suspects were accused of involvement in an extortion and assassination network that helped fund al Qaeda around Mosul. Its targets included oil companies and small businesses, the statement said.
Those killed were identified as the al Qaeda emir of northern Iraq, Khalid Muhammad Hasan Shallub al-Juburi; economic security emir Abu Ahmad al-Afri; and the suspected al Qaeda Governor of Mosul, Bashar Khalaf Husyan Ali al-Jaburi.
The military said three top suspected oil-extortion figures were among a dozen people arrested on March 24 in a security sweep.
"Without these individuals in the AQI (al Qaeda in Iraq) network, it is expected that AQI`s ability to operate and restructure will be severely hindered," it said.
The joint US-Iraqi operations were carried out pursuant to a warrant from an Iraqi judge.