Iraqi state TV reported Saturday that Islamic State’s deputy chief has been killed in an airstrike near the Syrian border, according to Reuters.
The unconfirmed report claimed that several other IS commanders were killed along with Ayad al-Jumaili — believed to be second in command to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and known as the group’s “war minister.”
The Iraqi government said earlier that Iraqi fighter jets carried out airstrikes against IS outside Mosul, killing more than 100 jihadists.
The strikes hit three IS targets in Baaj, a remote northwestern town near the Syrian border, and killed between 150-200 militants, the statement said, adding that the militants had crossed over from Syria, suggesting that IS still enjoys free movement across the borders.
Airstrikes by Iraqi Air Force and US-led international coalition forces have been vital to the months-long operation to retake Mosul from IS. In January, Iraqi authorities declared eastern Mosul “fully liberated.” Fighting is underway to recapture the city’s western side.
At least 300 civilians have been killed in the offensive against IS in the western half of Mosul since mid-February, according to the UN human rights office — including 140 killed in a single March 17 airstrike on a building. Dozens more are claimed to have been killed in another strike last weekend, according to Amnesty International, and by similar airstrikes in neighboring Syria in the past month.
AP contributed to this report.