US general: Zarqawi didn't die instantly
Al-Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was still alive when American forces arrived on the scene of an air strike that targeted him but died of his injuries shortly after, a US general said.
"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 troops arriving later were examining him on the stretcher when he died, the general said in a video conference, according to AFP.
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.
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.