Iraqi forces claim killing of IS 'deputy caliph'

Iraqi forces claim killing of IS 'deputy caliph' in counter-terrorism operation
2 min read
Iraq's Prime Minister promised to give IS a "thundering response" after the deadly bombings in Baghdad.
Iraqi security forces launched the "Revenge of the Martyrs" operation last week [Getty]
Iraqi security forces have killed a senior Islamic State (IS) figure Abu Yaser al-Issawi, who claimed to be the leader of the group in Iraq and its "deputy caliph", Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi said on Thursday.

"Our heroic armed forces have eliminated Daesh commander Abu Yaser Al-Issawi as part of an intelligence-led operation," Kadhimi tweeted.

Acknowledging the efforts of Iraq's "heroic armed forces", Kadhimi added: "I gave my word to pursue [IS] terrorists, we gave them a thundering response."

"If this is indeed confirmed, it's significant news, al-Issawi headed up IS’s entire Iraq operation," tweeted Charles Lister, a director at the Middle East Institute think tank in Washington. “It’s worth awaiting more substantive evidence (..) previous claims have turned out to have been false."

Read More: The Iraq Report: Deadly terror in Baghdad suicide bombings

Although IS was driven from all of its territories in a counter-terrorism operation in 2017, the militant group showed signs of a resurgence, following a twin suicide attack in Baghdad last week which killed dozens of civilians and wounded at least 110.

Iraq's Counter-Terrorism Service last week announced the launching of the "Revenge of the Martyrs" operation, directed by the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, immediately after the attack.

The Iraqi army on Wednesday killed seven IS militants, including three leaders from the group, in the counter-terrorism operation in northern Iraq, according to a military statement.

The army said clashes took place with IS in southern Kirkuk's Al-Chai Valley in shelters where several militants detonated themselves.

Three Iraqis convicted of "terrorism" were hanged on Monday, a security source said, days after the deadly suicide attacks.

An official from Iraq's presidency told AFP more than 340 execution orders "for terrorism or criminal acts" were ready to be carried out.

At least 11 fighters from the Iran-sponsored Hashed al-Shaabi force were killed in an ambush north of Baghdad last Sunday. No one claimed responsibility, but Iraqi security services interviewed by AFP blamed IS.

Follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram to stay connected