World Bulletin / News Desk
The nephew of the governor of a key province where Iraqi forces are battling the Islamic State group has been gunned down in the country's north, officials said Saturday.
The killing of Aqoub's nephew, who was also his personal driver, comes as Iraqi forces prepare for the battle to retake Mosul, the capital of Nineveh and the last city in the country still held by the extremists.
Sifuk Watban al-Sultan died of a single gunshot to the head on Friday night near the governor's house in Arbil, the governor's secretary told AFP, asking that he not be identified by name.
A Nineveh provincial councillor, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed Sultan's death, saying that Kurdish security forces had subsequently removed surveillance cameras from the house as part of the investigation.
The motive for the killing was not immediately clear, but it came after Aqoub made remarks at a conference in Baghdad earlier on Friday that were criticised by a political rival.
The governor said that IS fighters had fathered children under temporary marriages, a practice used by the extremist group to motivate its militants.
Some of the women involved -- including some of those who travelled to the Middle East to support IS -- have apparently participated voluntarily, but others may have been coerced.
While Aqoub was apparently criticising IS, the office of former parliament speaker Osama al-Nujaifi issued a statement accusing him of insulting the women of Mosul.
Iraqi forces have been conducting operations to set the stage for the battle to retake Mosul from IS, which has held it since June 2014, but they still have significant ground to cover as well as logistical preparations to make before a final assault can be launched.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said earlier that nearly 40 foreign fighters allied to Syria's regime were killed in the raid in eastern Syria.
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