Saddam Hussein’s former deputy, who later allied himself with Islamic State militants — Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri — was killed in a military operation.
Al-Douri was known as the “king of clubs” in the deck of playing cards issued to help US troops identify key members of Saddam’s regime.
Salahuddin province Governor Raed al-Jabouri says soldiers and allied Shi’ite militiamen killed al-Douri early yesterday in an operation east of the city of Tikrit. A graphic photo issued by the government purports to be of al-Douri’s corpse.
Senior regional commander, Gen Haider al-Basri, told Iraqi state TV that al-Douri and nine bodyguards were shot dead while riding in a convoy. DNA tests are underway to confirm the identity of the body.
Iraqi security forces have gained full control over a contested area south of the country’s largest oil refinery, as part of ongoing operations to secure the rest of Salahuddin province following the recapturing of Tikrit, a senior Iraqi military official said.
General Ayad al-Lahabi, a commander with the Salahuddin Command Center, said the military — backed by coalition airstrikes and Shi’ite and Sunni militias dubbed the Popular Mobilisation Forces — gained control of the towns of al-Malha and al-Mazraah, 3km (1.9 miles) south of the Beiji oil refinery, killing at least 160 Islamic State militants.
Al-Lahabi said security forces are trying to secure two corridors around the refinery itself after the Sunni militants launched a large-scale attack on the complex earlier this week.
Extremists from the Islamic State group seized much of Salahuddin province last summer during their advance across northern and western Iraq. The battle for Tikrit was seen as a key step toward eventually driving the militants out of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city and the capital of Nineveh province. In November, Iraqi security forces said they had recaptured Beiji from the militant group. The refinery had never been captured by the militants but has been subjected to frequent attacks by the group.
In Iraq’s western Anbar province, meanwhile, Iraqi special forces maintained control of the provincial capital, Ramadi, after days of intense clashes with the Islamic State group.