ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Iraqi security officials announced the deaths of two Islamic State (IS) leaders in as many days, one shot by security forces outside Kirkuk and the other killed by an explosion at a presumed hideout in Diyala province.
According to an intelligence source who spoke to the press on Monday, Iraqi security forces killed Abu Walid al-Shishani, a top aide of IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in a desert area on the outskirts of Kirkuk earlier that day.
“The death of Shishani is a great blow to the IS group, since he was responsible for plotting terrorist attacks against civilians in Kirkuk,” the sources said.
Some media reports have claimed that the announcement refered to Muslim Abu Walid al-Shishani, a well-known Georgian national who commands the Junud al-Sham jihadi group in Syria, but this could not be confirmed.
Security forces also killed five "foreign" fighters on Monday, he said, in the village of al-Humayra in the former IS stronghold of Hawija, in Kirkuk province.
Another prominent IS leader was announced dead in Diyala the day before in an explosion, Diyala Provincial Council Security Committee Head Sadiq al-Husseini told the media on Sunday.
“We have information on a mysterious explosion inside an IS safehouse on the outskirts of Mutaibija, near the border of Salahuddin [province], which left one of the leaders, known as ‘The Dwarf' dead," he said.
“Mutaibija has recently become a shelter for many IS members and leaders recently,” Husseini said, and called for a military operation to eliminate the remnants of the jihadi group in the area.
At least nine people were killed and wounded on Monday when four suicide bombers attacked the al-Askari district in the town of Haditha, in Anbar province, a security source told Kurdistan 24.
After three years of fierce fighting, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in December last year declared a military victory over the extremist group.
IS activities have increased in recent months, with a spike in guerilla-style tactics that include setting up fake security checkpoints to kidnap residents and Iraqi security force members.