ISIS ‘governor of Iraq’ killed in Syria, says Baghdad

A senior ISIS leader in Iraq was killed in an American-led coalition raid on the militant group in eastern Syria, Iraq’s intelligence agency has said.

Moataz Al Jubouri, known as the “governor of Iraq and head of ISIS’s foreign operations”, was killed in an air strike in Syria’s Deir Ezzor province, it said.

Al Jubouri was also known as Hajji Tayseer.

The attack was carried out with the assistance of Iraq’s intelligence and counter-terrorism services.

“Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi expresses his appreciation for the efforts of the National Intelligence and Counter-Terrorism Services for their co-ordination by exchanging information that led to the killing of the terrorist Moataz Numan Al Jubouri,” the Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Service said.

رئيس مجلس الوزراء القائد العام للقوات المسلحة السيد مصطفى الكاظمي، يشكر ويثمن جهود جهاز المخابرات الوطني وجهاز مكافحة الارهاب على تنسيقهم العالي بتبادل المعلومات التي ادت الى قتل الارهابي معتز نومان عبد نايف نجم الجبوري المكنى (حجي تيسير) والذي يشغل منصب ما يسمى "والي العراق
— جهاز مكافحة الإرهاب (@iraqicts) May 26, 2020 

It said Al Jubouri oversaw the terrorist group’s state-building efforts and was responsible for planning and co-ordinating foreign terrorist operations.

The US defence department declined to confirm or deny Al Jubouri’s death.

“[The Pentagon is] aware of reports alleging the death of a key ISIS leader, known as Hajji Taysir, but has no additional information to offer on this matter,” spokesperson Major Rob Lodewick told The National.

“Anytime senior-level terrorists are in fact eliminated, it’s a good thing for the people of the world,” he said. If the killing is confirmed, “this would mark yet another step towards the enduring defeat of ISIS to which the United States remains fully committed,” Maj. Lodewick said.

The US Rewards for Justice programme had a $5 million (Dh18.3m) bounty out for Al Jubouri. Washington said he was a “legacy member of ISIS’s predecessor organisation Al Qaeda in Iraq” and had overseen bomb-making for ISIS.

Iraq said last week that it had arrested a potential successor to former ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi.

Al Baghdadi, who led the extremist group since 2014 and was the world’s most wanted man, died when he detonated a suicide vest as American special forces raided his hideout in Syria’s north-western province of Idlib in October last year.

In 2017, Iraqi forces and their international partners managed to push back ISIS and declare military victory in the country, but the group has continued to launch attacks.

ISIS sleeper cells have increased ambushes and attacks across northern Iraq in recent weeks, killing and wounding Iraqi as well as foreign security personnel.

The group still has bases in rural areas of Anbar, Diyala, Kirkuk, Saladin and Mosul provinces. But the coalition believes ISIS is losing, even though it remains a potent opponent.

Since mid-March, the US-led coalition has pulled out from several bases across Iraq in a planned withdrawal because of fears about an outbreak of the coronavirus and security concerns.

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