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The leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Ayyub al-Masri, was arrested in the northern city of Mosul, the Iraqi Defense Ministry spokesman said Thursday.
Mohammed al-Askari said the arrest of al-Masri, also known as Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, was confirmed to him by the Iraqi commander of the province. There was no immediate confirmation or comment from U.S. forces.
News of the arrest was also reported by Iraqi state television.
"The commander of Ninevah military operations informed me that Iraqi troops captured Abu Hamza al-Muhajir the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq," al-Askari told The Associated Press by telephone.
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- The U.S. military in Iraq denied widespread reports Friday that trumpeted the capture of a top Iraqi insurgent leader.
Skeptical of the reports at first, the U.S. military is now certain that Abu Ayyub al-Masri -- the head of al Qaeda in Iraq -- has not been captured, a senior U.S. military official told CNN.