Report: Top aide to al-Baghdadi, 2 others killed
A senior aide to Islamic State commander Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed in an airstrike in the Iraqi city of Mosul, media reports said Thursday.
Al Arabiya television, a Saudi Arabian station, and NBC reported the claim, citing the Iraqi Defense Ministry. NBC quoted an unnamed senior Iraqi security official as saying the U.S. carried out the attack.
A Pentagon spokesman, Col. Steve Warren, could not confirm the report, saying the U.S. has not targeted individual figures in the terror movement. Warren said the U.S. airstrikes have been directed against troop concentrations threatening specific areas in the north, including the Mosul dam and the Kurdish capital of Irbil.
“If there were are leaders inside of ISIL troop formations that have been attacked, then they will likely be killed,” Warren said, using one of the acronyms for the Islamic State.
The Iraqi ministry identified the aide as Abu Hajar Al-Sufi and said two other Islamic State figures were killed. The ministry did not say how it knew about the purported deaths, and some Iraqi claims of tactical success against the militants have been exaggerated.
Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, has been under Islamic State control since the Iraqi army collapsed in the north in June in the face of an insurgent offensive.