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Islamic State deputy leader reportedly killed in U.S.-led air strike

Islamic State deputy leader reportedly killed in U.S.-led air strike

PanARMENIAN.Net - The second-in-command of Islamic State (IS) has been killed in a U.S.-led coalition air strike in northern Iraq, the Iraqi ministry of defense said, according to BBC News.

Abdul Rahman Mustafa Mohammed, also known as Abu Alaa al-Afari, was at a mosque near Tal Afar that was targeted, spokesman Brig-Gen Tahsin Ibrahim said.

There was no immediate confirmation from the U.S. military or on IS media, the BBC says.

In recent weeks, there were unconfirmed reports that Afari had taken temporary charge of IS operations.

Iraqi sources claimed IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had been incapacitated as a result of an air strike in Iraq in March.

Gen Ibrahim told the BBC that Afari was killed alongside dozens of militants who he had been meeting at the al-Shuhada (Martyrs) mosque in the village of al-Iyadhiya, near Tal Afar, where he was reportedly a well-known preacher.

Tal Afar, in the northern province of Nineveh, was seized by IS in June 2014.

The general did not specify which country carried out the air strike, but the U.S. has been responsible for the vast majority since the coalition campaign began last August.

The ministry of defense separately published video purportedly showing the strike. It did not say when it took place, but one official told the Associated Press it was on Tuesday, May 12.

The Governor of Nineveh, Atheel al-Nujaifi, told the BBC in Washington that his contacts had confirmed Afari's death.

A Pentagon spokeswoman said it had seen the media reports but did not have anything to confirm.

On Wednesday, it announced that it carried out an air strike near Tal Afar in the past day, destroying a "militant fighting position and a heavy machine-gun".

Last week, the U.S. State Department offered a reward of $7mln for information on a "senior IS official" called Abdul Rahman Mustafa al-Qaduli, whom Iraqi security sources identified as Afari.

Born in 1957 or 1959 in Iraq's second city of Mosul, Qaduli joined IS forces in Syria after his release from an Iraqi prison in 2012, it said. He had previously served as the leader of alQaeda in Iraq (AQI) - a precursor of IS - in Mosul.

The U.S. added Qaduli to its list of specially designated global terrorists in 2014.

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