US forces have killed an Al-Qaeda kingpin they allege sent 12-year-old Iraqi boys to their deaths as suicide car bombers, a military statement said on Wednesday.
US command said they had identified a suspect killed northwest of Baghdad on April 20 as Muhammad Abdullah Abbas al-Issawi, also known as Abu Akram and Abu Abd al-Sattar, the Al-Qaeda "security emir" in eastern Anbar province.
"Coalition forces were conducting operations targeting associates of a known senior leader within Al-Qaeda in Iraq," the statement said.
"During the operation the terrorists engaged ground forces with small arms fire. Coalition forces used appropriate self-defence measures and engaged the armed men, killing two and detaining one," it said.
According to the statement, suicide bomb vests were found at the scene, and "intelligence reports also indicate that his VBIED (car bomb) cell used 12- to 13-year-old children as VBIED drivers."
The statement also alleged that the dead suspect was an associate of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the former leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq who was killed last June in a US air strike.