Mideast edition, Monday, July 16, 2007

FORWARD OPERATING BASE KALSU, Iraq — U.S. military forces killed two high-ranking al-Qaida leaders Saturday south of Baghdad, officials said.

Officials with the 3rd Infantry Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team identified the two men as Abu Jurah and Bakr Umran Thayib al Jabouri. The figures were high-value targets Nos. 2 and 8 for the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, brigade officials said.

Brigade commanders were tipped to the location of the two men by intelligence sources as they were meeting inside a safe house guarded by about 13 other insurgents, officials said.

A 2nd Brigade artillery battery fired two precision-guided Excalibur 155mm rounds, striking the house.

After the rounds hit the structure, some of the remaining insurgents fled to two vehicles. A white vehicle and a blue sedan were seen leaving the scene, officials said.

Two Apache helicopter gunships later spotted the blue sedan speeding down a highway and fired on the vehicle.

The insurgents stopped and returned fire at the helicopters. While some insurgents remained in the sedan, others got out and fled to a nearby house, officials said.

An F-16 fighter jet was then called in and dropped two 500-pound Joint Direct Attack Munitions on the house into which the insurgents had fled, destroying the structure.

Aerial video shot of the attack showed that the house was destroyed by the airstrike.

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