U.S. forces "just missed" capturing terror leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in a gunfight over the weekend in the northern city of Mosul, U.S. military sources told.
The military had intelligence that indicated al-Zarqawi was meeting with high-level Iraq in al-Qaida lieutenants, a Pentagon source confirmed.
As soldiers closed in on the site, there was an exchange of small arms fire, then it appears the three al-Qaida suspects blew themselves up to avoid capture.
The military is conducting DNA tests on flesh and blood recovered from the scene, but a Pentagon official said indications are that al-Zarqawi is not among those killed.
"The information was solid. We just missed him," said one Pentagon source.
Separately, White House spokesman Trent Duffy said Sunday that reports of al-Zarqawi's death were "highly unlikely and not credible."
"We have no indication that al-Zarqawi was killed in this fight and we continue operations to search for him," added Lt. Col. Barry Johnson, a U.S. military spokesman.
The elusive al-Zarqawi has narrowly escaped capture in the past, according to NBC.
Putin made his first public comment on the subject of the recent decision of US President Donald Trump to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel