Abu Hajar al-Suri, an Islamic State commander and second-in-command to the jihadist leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was reported killed on Thursday, but the circumstances of his alleged death remain shrouded in mystery.
The latest Lebanese and Iraqi reports indicated that the high-ranking figure had been killed in a US airstrike near Mosul. However, al-Suri, who is also known as Majed Muhammad Suhaim and Abu Hajar al-Shami, was said to be killed in a botched suicide bombing on August 22 in the Taqaba airport. On August 19, in an apparent reference to the forthcoming suicide attack, Suhaim tweeted that he was headed to paradise.
None of the reports could be immediately confirmed.
Also Thursday, jihadists kidnapped dozens of residents of a northern Iraq village on Thursday after villagers burned one of their positions along with a jihadist flag, police and witnesses said.
The IS terrorists had withdrawn from Tal Ali in Kirkuk province on Wednesday, but returned in force on Thursday and abducted some 50 people, the sources said.
It is not the first time IS has carried out mass kidnappings in Iraq, with the group abducting thousands of civilians as it overran minority-populated northern villages last month, according to human rights group Amnesty International.
Amnesty has accused IS of “systematic ethnic cleansing,” including mass killings, of ethnic and religious minorities in Iraq.
A senior UN rights official has said the group is responsible for “acts of inhumanity on an unimaginable scale.”
IS-led militants launched a lightning offensive in the north in June, sweeping through much of the Sunni Arab heartland north and west of Baghdad before turning on Christian and Yazidi areas.
Iraqi security forces, now bolstered by thousands of Shiite militiamen as well as Kurdish fighters, have clawed back some ground northeast of Baghdad.
But significant areas, including parts of Kirkuk province, remain under terrorist control.