Iraqi PM confirms Zarqawi death

According to the BBC, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki has said that al-Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has been killed in an air raid near Baghdad as part of a special forces raid.

Al-Maliki adviser Adnan al-Kazimi told The Associated Press there was a report that al-Zarqawi may have been killed late Wednesday in Baghdad, but said he said he could not confirm the report.

He said al-Maliki was scheduled to shortly give a news conference along with the top US general in Iraq, General George Casey.

This can only be good news, but it seems unlikely that the insurgency will instantly crumble with him gone.

UPDATE:This statement has just been issued by General Casey announcing the death of Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi during a press conference with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and US Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad:

“Ladies and Gentlemen, Coalition Forces killed al- Qaeda terrorist leader Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi and one of his key lieutenants, spiritual advisor Sheik Abd-Al-Rahman, yesterday, June 7, at 6:15 p.m. in an air strike against an identified, isolated safe house.

“Tips and intelligence from Iraqi senior leaders from his network led forces to al-Zarqawi and some of his associates who were conducting a meeting approximately eight kilometres north of Baqubah when the air strike was launched.

“Iraqi police were first on the scene after the air strike, and elements of Multi-National Division North, arrived shortly thereafter. Coalition Forces were able to identify al-Zarqawi by fingerprint verification, facial recognition and known scars.

“Al-Zarqawi and al-Qaida in Iraq have conducted terrorist activities against the Iraqi people for years in attempts to undermine the Iraqi national government and Coalition efforts to rebuild and stabilize Iraq. He is known to be responsible for the deaths of thousands of Iraqis.

“Al-Zarqawi’s death is a significant blow to al-Qaida and another step toward defeating terrorism in Iraq.

“Although the designated leader of al- Qaeda in Iraq is now dead, the terrorist organization still poses a threat as its members will continue to try to terrorize the Iraqi people and destabilize their government as it moves toward stability and prosperity. Iraqi forces, supported by the Coalition, will continue to hunt terrorists that threaten the Iraqi people until terrorism is eradicated in Iraq.”