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ARLINGTON, Va. — Refuting reports that U.S. troops beat al-Qaida in Iraq’s leader to death, the military Monday announced that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi died from blast injuries.

Zarqawi and five others were killed June 7 when an F-16 dropped two 500-pound bombs on a home near Baqouba where he was meeting his spiritual adviser, Sheik Abdul-Rahman.

An autopsy performed on al-Zarqawi shows that he died as a result of internal injuries suffered from the airstrike, officials said.

“The scientific facts provide irrefutable evidence regarding the deaths of these terrorists [that] will serve to counter speculation, misinformation and propaganda,” said Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, spokesman for Multinational Force-Iraq.

Al-Zarqawi was killed by the force of the two bombs’ blasts on his lungs, said Col. Stephen Jones, command surgeon for Multi-National Force-Iraq.

“Blast waves from the two bombs caused tearing, bruising of the lungs and bleeding. These injuries are not apparent from an external inspection. They can only be seen by examining the lungs,” Jones said.

Al-Zarqawi’s injuries are consistent with blast victims and there is no evidence that al-Zarqawi was beaten or shot, Jones said.

“The injuries to his lungs were not survivable. That’s what killed him,” Jones said.

Al-Zarqawi’s injuries were not immediately fatal and he was able to live for about 52 minutes following the airstrike, Caldwell said.

When coalition forces arrived at the site after the airstrike, a medic treated al-Zarqawi who was spitting up blood and passing in and out of consciousness, Caldwell said.

“The medic then checked his carotid pulse, which was barely palpable and quickly deteriorated, at which he determined therefore that al-Zarqawi’s death was imminent,” he said.

At 7:04 p.m., al-Zarqawi died, Caldwell said.

Also Monday, Caldwell countered reports that U.S. ground troops were already on the site when the airstrike was called in.

“There’s a period there of about 28 minutes before coalition forces arrived at that location and physically had you would say boots on the ground at the safe house. They were not outside the building before then,” he said.

He explained coalition forces were following Rahman but did not know where exactly he was going to meet al-Zarqawi, so the only option available to take out al-Zarqawi was calling in an airstrike.

Caldwell also clarified that coalition forces were confident they had enough information to call in the air strike on al-Zarqawi’s safe house but they did not actually see al-Zarqawi go inside the building.

“We had been following al-Rahman, and when he arrived at that safe house, all the criteria that they had previously established that would have told them there is a linkup occurring between al-Zarqawi and al-Rahman in fact were met at that point in time,” Caldwell said.

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