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News, April 2015
Former Iraqi Vice President, Izzat Ibrahim Al-Douri, Confirmed Dead By Iraqi Shi'i Militia
April 20, 2015
Iraqi Shi'ite militia says DNA tests prove Saddam aide dead
Sun Apr 19, 2015 4:08pm
Iraqi Shi'ite militia says DNA tests prove Saddam aide dead | Reuters. . . . . . . . . . . . .
An Iraqi Shi'ite militia group said on Sunday it had conducted DNA tests to prove the death of Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, former Iraqi Vice President to the late president Saddam Hussein, who after the 2003 U.S. invasion was ranked by Washington as the sixth most-wanted Iraqi.
The Kataib Hizbollah group published a video on Saturday showing its fighters undressing the body of the man believed to be Al-Douri, who was laid out on a metal trolley, and snipping off a piece of his flame-red beard.
"The final results prove that the body belongs to Izzat al-Douri," the group's spokesman Ja'afar Husseini told Reuters, saying his DNA had been tested in the Iranian-backed Kataib Hizbollah's own special hospitals. He did not reveal details of where those hospitals were located.
"We are 100 percent certain," he added without elaborating.
Husseini said the body would be handed over to the government on Monday.
The governor of Iraq's Salahuddin province announced on Friday that Douri had been killed in an ambush in the Hamrin mountain area.
Baghdad has mistakenly announced Douri's death more than once before, but this time photographs are circulating of a man that bears some resemblance to him.
An exiled spokesman for Saddam's outlawed Baath Party, of which Douri later became head, denied he had been killed, although he offered no evidence he was still alive.
The prime minister's spokesman, Sa'ad al-Hadithi, confirmed the body had yet to be handed over to the government, adding he was not aware of any other laboratories other than the Ministry of Health's that could reliably test the remains.
"The testing needs to be conducted in official, trusted laboratories in the Ministry of Health's morgue," he said.
Kataib Hizbollah is one of a number of Shi'ite paramilitary groups that have risen to prominence fighting Islamic State fighters who overran around one third of Iraq last summer after the army's northern divisions disintegrated.
(Editing by Mark Trevelyan)
Iraqi Kurdish forces widen buffer around oil-rich city of Kirkuk
Sun, Apr 19, 2015, 4:29pm EDT
ERBIL, Iraq, April 19, 2015
Kurdish authorities said their forces, backed by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes, drove Islamic State fighters from an 84 square kilometre (32 sq mile) area in northern Iraq over the weekend, widening a buffer around the oil-rich city of Kirkuk.
The Kurdistan region's security council said in a statement at least 35 insurgents had been killed by its peshmerga forces in the offensive south of Kirkuk, which began on Saturday on two fronts.
The peshmerga have emerged as a key partner for the United States in its campaign against Islamic State. They have rolled it back in northern Iraq, significantly expanding the formal boundary of their autonomous region in the process.
The Kurds took full control of Kirkuk last summer as Islamic State overran the north of the country, and several divisions of the Iraqi army disintegrated. Kurdish leaders say they will never give up the ethnically mixed city, to which they, as well as Turkmen and Arabs, lay claim.
The U.S.-led coalition said in a statement on Sunday it had provided "reconnaissance (and) advise and assist elements" as well as airstrikes in support of the peshmerga, who had gained "dozens of square miles".
Islamic State deployed one suicide car bomb, the Kurdish security council said, and teams were now working to clear the area of mines and booby traps -- the single highest cause of casualties among the peshmerga.
Last month, the peshmerga pushed Islamic State fighters out of more than 100 sq km south and west of Kirkuk.
"Peshmerga forces continue to have the initiative - advancing deep into ISIS territory and forcing the group to resort to cowardly acts designed to hurt innocent civilians," the security council statement said, using another acronym for Islamic State. (Reporting by Isabel Coles; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)
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