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Iraq al-Qaida says US forces left to save money as its 'economy collapsed.'
BAGHDAD (AP) ' Al-Qaida in Iraq says the U.S. pulled its troops out because its economy is collapsing and it needed to save money.
The message posted on its website Wednesday is al-Qaida's first online comment since the U.S. completed its pullout last month, ending a nine-year conflict. Al-Qaida in Iraq was one of the main U.S. enemies.
In the audio message, a spokesman who identifies himself as Abu Mohammed al-Adnani says "America has been defeated in Iraq" and the U.S. withdrew its forces "because its economic and human losses were unbearable."
Al-Adnani also calls on former al-Qaida fighters to not "abandon jihad."
Since the U.S. pullout, al-Qaida and other Sunni militants have stepped up attacks on Shiites, raising concern that the situation there might deteriorate into a civil war.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
BAGHDAD (AP) ' Iraqi officials say a leader of a Sunni militia that turned against al-Qaida in Iraq and sided with the U.S troops to fight the militants has been killed in Baghdad.
Police and hospital officials say Mullah Nadhum al-Jubouri died in a drive-by shooting in western Baghdad on Tuesday.
The officials spoke Wednesday on condition on anonymity because they were not allowed to talk to the media. Postings on an Islamic extremist website celebrated al-Jubouri's death.
Before joining the pro-government group known as Awakening Councils, al-Jubouri fought Americans alongside al-Qaida militants.
In 2009, al-Jubouri was detained in a joint U.S.-Iraqi raid on suspicion of carrying out attacks three years earlier, including downing a U.S. helicopter. He was later released.