A top commander of the Daesh terrorist group has reportedly been killed in Iraq as government forces are pushing ahead with their battle against the Takfiris, retaking more areas from them.
Press Secretary Peter Cook said on Monday that Abu Wahib, also known as Shakir Wahib, and three other Daesh elements were killed when their vehicle was struck in a US
airstrike in Iraq’s Anbar province on May 6.
A former member of al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Wahib had appeared in Daesh execution videos, Cook said, adding that he was killed near the town of Rutbah.
Abu Wahib was captured by US forces in Iraq in 2006 and sentenced to death but escaped prison in 2012. He gained notoriety the following year for killing a number of Syrian truck drivers travelling in Iraq.
The US and some of its allies have allegedly been conducting airstrikes against Daesh extremists in Iraq since August 2014.
Iraqi forces take part in a military operation against Daesh terrorists in Anbar province, May 3, 2016. (AFP)
In another development on Monday, Iraqi forces and volunteer fighters liberated the northern village of Kabrouk in Nineveh province from Daesh, as they try to close in on the terrorist-held city of Mosul.
“In a swift operation, our units took the groups of the terrorist organization Daesh by surprise and entered the village,” the Nineveh Operations Command said in a statement.
The advance brings Iraqi troops slightly closer to Mosul, which fell into the Daesh control in the summer of 2014.
In recent months, Daesh has been pushed out of much of the land it previously captured in Iraq in 2014. The terrorist group has suffered heavy losses in numerous offensives by the Iraqi army and popular forces.
This picture taken on March 3, 2016, shows the Mosul dam on the Tigris River, north of the Iraqi city of Mosul. (AFP)
New Italian forces
Meanwhile, Italian Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti made a surprise visit to Iraq on Monday to discuss the deployment of 450 additional Italian forces near the frontline with Daesh to protect workers carrying out repairs to the country’s largest dam.
Experts say the Mosul dam has been in danger of collapse for a long time, warning that if the huge structure broke down, it could send a huge wave crashing into the city of Mosul, Iraq’s second- largest city, which is located about 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the dam.
Pinotti held a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in the capital Baghdad. She then traveled to the northern city of Erbil, the capital of Iraq’s Kurdistan region, which is located 115 kilometers (70 miles) east of the Mosul dam.
There are currently some 750 Italian soldiers in Iraq, mainly training Iraqi army and police in Baghdad and Erbil, but the new forces will be stationed less than 20 kilometers away from the dam, close to Daesh-held territories.
The Iraqi government signed a USD 296-million contract in February with Italy’s Trevi Group to repair and maintain the Mosul dam, which has suffered from structural flaws since it was built in the 1980s.