Iraq strikes kill IS chief's aide: general

Posted at 09/05/14 8:57 AM

KIRKUK - Air strikes in northern Iraq on Thursday killed the top aide of jihadist Islamic State (IS) chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the country's ranking army officer said.

"Iraqi warplanes carried out a security operation today, resulting in the killing of... Abu Hajr al-Suri," General Babaker Zebari told AFP.

Zebari said the strikes in Nineveh province were "based on accurate intelligence information," and that the target was destroyed.

It was not possible to independently confirm Suri's death.

The area where the strikes were carried out, located between Mosul and Tal Afar, is outside government control, posing a major challenge to verifying Suri's death.

IS-led militants launched a major offensive in June, overrunning Iraq's second city Mosul and then sweeping through much of the country's Sunni Arab heartland.

The group also holds significant territory in neighbouring Syria, and has declared a cross-border Islamic "caliphate" in which it has carried out atrocities that have shocked the world.

IS launched a renewed push in Iraq last month that drove Kurdish forces back toward the capital of their autonomous northern region, sparking a campaign of US air strikes that have helped them regain some ground.

The federal government won its first major military success of the conflict on Sunday, when Iraqi forces, Shiite militiamen and Kurdish fighters broke a months-long jihadist siege of the town of Amerli and surrounding areas.

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