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 Updated: April 18, 2015

Saddam's king of clubs, ISIS commander killed in Iraq

By: Ismail Zabeeh

BAGHDAD, Iraq: Iraqi officials say they believe government forces have killed Saddam Hussein’s former deputy who later allied himself with Islamic State militants – Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri.

Douri was known as the “king of clubs” in the deck of playing cards issued to help US troops identify key members of Saddam’s regime.

The governor of Salahuddin province, Raed al-Jabouri, says soldiers and allied Shia/Sunni militiamen killed Douri early on Friday in an operation east of the city of Tikrit. A graphic photo issued by the government purports to be of Douri’s corpse.

A senior regional commander, General Haider al-Basri, told Iraqi state TV that Douri and nine bodyguards were killed by gunshots while riding in a convoy.

Douri’s apparent death came as Iraqi security forces gained full control over a contested area south of the country’s largest oil refinery.

General Ayad al-Lahabi, a commander with the Salahuddin Command Center, said the military, backed by coalition air strikes and Shia and Sunni militias dubbed the Popular Mobilisation Forces, gained control of the towns of al-Malha and al-Mazraah, located 3km (1.9 miles) south of the Beiji oil refinery, killing at least 160 Isis militants.

Lahabi said security forces are trying to secure two corridors around the refinery itself after the ISIS militants launched a large-scale attack on the complex earlier this week, hitting the refinery walls with explosive-laced Humvees.

Extremists from Isis seized much of Salahuddin province last summer during their advance across northern and western Iraq. The battle for Tikrit was seen as a key step towards eventually driving the militants out of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city and the capital of Nineveh province. In November, Iraqi security forces said they had recaptured the town of Beiji from the militant group. The refinery had never been captured by the militants but has been subjected to frequent attacks by the group.

In Iraq’s western Anbar province, meanwhile, Iraqi special forces maintained control of the provincial capital, Ramadi, after days of intense clashes with Isis left the city at risk. Sabah Nuaman, a special forces commander in Anbar, said the situation had improved early on Friday after air strikes hit key militant targets on the city’s fringes.

Sabah al-Karhout, head of Anbar’s provincial council, said there were no major attacks on the city on Friday but that the militants still maintained control of three villages to the east of Ramadi, which they captured on Wednesday, sending thousands of civilians fleeing for safety.


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