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Zarqawi survived air strike: US military

Iraqi police, the first on the scene, found Zarqawi alive and put him on a stretcher.

india Updated: Jun 09, 2006 23:08 IST

Al-Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was still alive when US troops arrived on the scene of an air strike that targeted him but died of his wounds shortly after, a US general said on Friday.

"From the debrief this morning, which gave us greater clarity that we had before, Zarqawi in fact did survive the air strike," said Major General William Caldwell, a US military spokesman.

Iraqi police, the first on the scene, found Zarqawi alive and put him on a stretcher.

US forces arriving later were examining him on the stretcher when he died, the general said in a video conference from Baghdad.

The US forces "went immediately to the person on the stretcher, were able to start identifying him by some distinguishing marks on his body. They had some kind of visual facial recognition."

"According to the person on the ground, Zarqawi attempted to sort of turn away off the stretcher. Everybody resecured him on the stretcher, but he died immediately thereafter," Caldwell said.

US military officials had said yesterday that Zarqawi had not survived the attack.

Caldwell said there was nothing in the report that indicated that Zarqawi was shot or died of wounds other than those received in the bombing.

He said did not know how long Zarqawi survived the blast, but said the military was trying to reconstruct the timeline between the bombing, the Iraqi police's arrival on the scene, the arrival of the US forces and Zarqawi's death.