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Pentagon says it targeted French jihadist Kassim in Mosul airstrikes

Rachid Kassim, who is suspected of having inspired several attacks in France, has been targeted in an airstrike near Mosul in Iraq. His death has not been confirmed in the attack.

Irak Rachid Kassim IS (Getty Images/AFP)

Rachid Kassim, as seen in a propaganda video released by IS

The US military confirmed that they had targeted the senior Islamist militant Rachid Kassim (pictured) in a coalition airstrike in the Iraqi city of Mosul.

"We are currently assessing the results of that strike and will provide more information when it becomes available," Pentagon spokesman Marine Corps Major Adrian J.T. Rankine-Galloway said.

Earlier in the day, however, several French media outlets had reported Kassim's death. France, which is part of the US-led coalition against the "Islamic State" (IS) in Iraq and Syria, has been the target of a series of jihadist attacks since 2015, leaving more than 200 people dead in total.

An agitator

Kassim is believed to have encouraged an attack last year in which a senior French policeman and his partner were knifed to death and another in which an elderly priest's throat was cut. He is suspected of guiding the attacks in France from his base in IS-controlled parts of Syria, using encrypted communication apps.

He was seen last July in an IS propaganda video in which he praised the attacker in the Nice truck massacre that killed 86 people during Bastille Day celebrations on July 14, 2016.

US-backed Iraqi forces are currently battling to regain control over the remaining western districts of Mosul that are still under IS control.

ss/gsw (AFP, Reuters)

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