Biden calls leaders' deaths 'devastating' to al-Qaida
(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

WASHINGTON (April 19, 2010) -- Vice President Joe Biden today praised Iraqi and U.S. security forces for killing two top leaders of the al-Qaida in Iraq terror organization.

Biden said the operation - conducted yesterday - was the result of Iraqi planning and execution, and was developed via intelligence Iraqi security forces received last month.

An American servicemember died in the crash of a U.S. helicopter that supported the raid, Biden said. Iraqi security forces killed Abu Ayoub al-Masri and Abu Omar al-Bahgdadi in a series of operations conducted near Tikrit.

The deceased terrorists "are the ones who plotted and executed attacks by [al-Qaida in Iraq] against the Iraqis in the recent past, as well as the Americans," Biden said at the White House press room. "Their deaths are potentially devastating blows to al-Qaida [in] Iraq."

Biden called on the Iraqi government to consolidate the security gains and honor the sacrifices many have made.

"It's now incumbent upon Iraq's political leaders to take the next and important and necessary step to form an inclusive and representative government that meets the needs and aspirations of the Iraq people," Biden said.

The United States will end its combat mission in Iraq by the end of August. Biden stressed that all U.S. troops will be out of Iraq by the end of 2011.

"As we complete this security transition, we will continue to work to build a lasting partnership with the Iraqi people and their government based on the many shared interests we have that go beyond security," the vice president said.