Kirkuk (IraqiNews.com) An Islamic State member, known to be close to the group’s supreme leader, was killed along with several snipers in an airstrike in southwest of Kirkuk, a local source said.
“The leader in charge of training the group’s snipers, known as Abu Abdullah al-Tajiki, along with other snipers, were killed in an airstrike in a village in north of Hawija,” the source told AlSumaria News on Saturday.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the source added, “al-Tajiki is one of the front line leaders. He was known to be close to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the group’s leader. He was in charge of the snipers brigade in Nineveh.”
Iraqi joint troops killed 385 IS members, including five snipers, as Hawija Operations Command announced accomplishing targets of the second phase of operations earlier on the day. Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi declared on Thursday liberation of Hawija. The second phase of the offensive was launched in late September.
557 IS militants were killed, while more than 100 villages and regions were liberated during the first phase, which launched on September 24th.
On Friday, Pentagon said it believes Baghdadi is still alive. Anadolu Agency quoted Eric Pahon, a Pentagon spokesperson, on Friday as saying that the U.S. intelligence service verified audio recording circulated last week to be authentic.