Zarqawi dead...for real

*New Zarqawi thread is here. Video of the airstrike is here.*

Complete coverage with video, photographs, and blog links here.

Been blogging it over at since news broke around 3:20am EDT. I’m bleary-eyed and about to crash, but the guys will take over at sun-up.

Flashback: The Zarqawi “blooper” reel

The Kossacks start in.

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, al-Qaida’s leader in
Iraq who led a bloody campaign of suicide bombings and kidnappings, has been killed in an air raid north of Baghdad — a major victory in the U.S.-led war in Iraq and the broader war on terror. Iraq’s prime minister and U.S. officials said his identity was confirmed by fingerprints and a first-hand look at his face.

The announcement came six days after the Jordanian-born terror leader appeared in a videotape, railing against Shiites in Iraq and saying militias are raping women and killing Sunnis and the community must fight back.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said al-Zarqawi was killed along with seven aides Wednesday evening in a house 30 miles northeast of Baghdad in the volatile province of Diyala, just east of the provincial capital of Baqouba, al-Maliki said.

“Today, al-Zarqawi was eliminated,” al-Maliki told a news conference, drawing loud applause from reporters as he was flanked by U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and U.S. Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq.

Al-Maliki said the air strike was the result of intelligence reports provided to Iraqi security forces by residents in the area, and U.S. forces acted on the information.

“Those who disrupt the course of life, like al-Zarqawi, will have a tragic end,” he said.

He also warned those who follow the militant’s lead that “whenever there is a new al-Zarqawi, we will kill him.”

“This is a message for all those who embrace violence, killing and destruction to stop and to (retreat) before it’s too late,” he said. “It is an open battle with all those who incite sectarianism.”

Khalilzad added “the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is a huge success for Iraq and the international war on terror.” He also gave a thumbs up and said it was a good day for the United States.

Casey said the hunt for al-Zarqawi began in the area two weeks ago, and al-Zarqawi’s body was identified by fingerprints and facial recognition.

Update (Allahpundit): Here’s the video of al-Maliki announcing it. Click to watch.