The former Iraqi general and Saddam Hussein loyalist Ezzat Ibrahim al-Douri has been killed in a widescale military operation, Iraqi media say. Al-Douri later allied himself with "Islamic State" militants.
A prominent former aide to late Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, Ezzat Ibrahim al-Douri, has been killed by government forces, the governor of Salahuddin province, Raed al-Jabouri, told al-Arabiya television.
Al-Jabouri said soldiers and allied Shiite militiamen killed al-Douri early Friday in an operation east of the city of Tikrit. The killing was part of the ongoing operations to secure the rest of Salahuddin province following the recapturing of Tikrit from the self-styled "Islamic State," a senior Iraqi military official said.
General Haider al-Basri of the Iraqi military said that al-Douri was riding in a convoy, and that nine others were killed in the attack.
'Mastermind of Islamic State'
Governor al-Jabouri called al-Douri the "mastermind of 'Islamic State' in Iraq," saying that his killing would prove a blow to the group. In addition, he told al-Arabiya that DNA tests would confirm al-Douri's identity.
The station showed a photo of a dead man, who looked similar to al-Douri.
However, Ahmed al-Kraim, head of the Salahuddin provincial council, cast doubt on al-Douri’s death stating that intelligence officers tracking the insurgent’s movements did not believe he was the man in the photograph shown on al-Arabiya.
Iraqi officials have mistakenly announced al-Douri’s death several times before, however, this is the first time the announcement has been accompanied by a photo.
From king of clubs to 'IS' ringleader
The former Saddam loyalist was also believed to be mastermind of the insurgency against the current Shiite-led government in Iraq, a prominent ally of the jihadist fighters.
Al-Douri was regarded as the most high-profile official of Saddam Hussein's Baath party to successfully evade capture in the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. In the US deck of playing cards assembled to represent key Iraqi regime members, the general was designated the king of clubs.
ra/msh (Reuters, AP)