Baghdad: Iraq's Defense Ministry said Wednesday an airstrike by the U.S.-led coalition killed a senior Islamic State commander and others near the extremist-held city of Mosul. While the coalition said it conducted an airstrike there in the last 24 hours, American officials could not be immediately reached about the statement from Iraq, which has made incorrect claims before.
A ministry statement said the strike killed Abu Alaa al-Afari and others who were in a meeting inside a mosque in the city of Tal Afar. It described al-Afari as senior deputy to the Islamic State group's leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. It did not offer a time for the strike, nor any specific casualty figures. It did offer a black-and-white video clip of an airstrike hitting a building.
A Defense Ministry official later told The Associated Press that the airstrike happened late Tuesday. He spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to journalists.
American officials could not be immediately reached regarding the strike. The U.S.-led coalition said Wednesday it carried out a strike in the past day near Tal Afar, destroying "an ISIL fighting position and an ISIL heavy machine gun," using a different acronym for the group.
The U.S. State Department's Rewards for Justice program lists Abu Alaa as one of the aliases for a wanted Islamic State group senior leader named Abd Al-Rahman Mustafa al-Qaduli. It says al-Qaduli joined al-Qaida in Iraq in 2004 under the command of its slain leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and served as his deputy and the group's "emir," or senior leader in northern city of Mosul.
The U.S. Treasury Department adds that in 2006, al-Qaduli traveled to Pakistan on behalf al-Zarqawi to conduct an interview, which was then to be provided to al-Qaida leaders in Afghanistan. The Treasury Department added al-Qaduli to the list of specially designated global terrorists in 2014 "for acting for or on behalf of ... the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant," a former name for the Islamic State group.
The State Department, which offers up to $7 million for al-Qaduli, says he was born in 1957 or 1959 in Mosul.