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Iraq Report: Al Masri rumored dead, oil law clears the cabinet

The big news from Iraq is the purported killing of Abu Ayyub al Masri, the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq and the newly "appointed" Minister of War for al Qaeda's political front, the Islamic State in Iraq. The claim that al Masri was killed by tribal forces near Taji in Salahadin province has yet to be confirmed by Multinational Forces Iraq. The Iraqi Interior Ministry as well as the Deputy Prime Minister have not confirmed al Masri's death, but only claim to have intelligence he was killed. The Iraqi Interior Ministry has claimed al-Masri has been killed in the past, most recently in February of 2007. Al Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq are denying al Masri was killed.

If al Masri was killed, and was killed by tribal forces, the likelihood is the Anbar Salvation Council , which has battled al Qaeda in the province, crossed the provincial boundary to cooperate with a local anti al Qaeda group. The Anbar Salvation Council has recently asked for permission from the government "to pursue militants across provincial lines," according to IraqSlogger. "Recent reports suggest that such clearance may have been granted."

Baghdad has seen yet another day free of major suicide attacks. The Reuters Factbox, which compiles major incidents across Iraq, reported a single major incident in the city. Yesterday, a suicide bomber attacked Shia mourners as they packed a tent for a funeral in the city of Khalis in Diyala province. Thirty two were killed and over 60 wounded in the strike.

The al Qaeda hunter killer teams of Task Force 145 continue to target al Qaeda's network. Five al Qaeda were killed and 20 captured during raids near Taji, Samarra and Mosul. Yesterday, Task Force 145 captured 11 al Qaeda suspects near Samarra and Baghdad, while the Iraqi Army arrested 138 insurgents. On April 29, a joint Iraqi and U.S. operation targeting "several high-value individuals who were reportedly meeting in the Kadamiyah area" of Baghdad resulted in "several individuals" detained. On April 27, Iraq Special Forces captured 7 suspected insurgents during targeted operations in Baghdad's Yarmouk neighborhood.

On the political front, the Iraqi cabinet has approved the draft oil law, which will ensure an equal distribution of the oil wealth, and the law will go into effect by the end of May. "The oil sector's profits will be put in a central account and distributed [to the provinces] according to population." The oil law has been seen as a major political stumbling block between the Sunni, Shia and Kurdish factions. Iraq's oil reserves are believed to have been understated by half, and the recent discovery of vast oil reservoirs in Anbar province has given the Sunni tribes a new, unconsidered source of wealth if development on the oil fields can begin.

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