World Bulletin / News Desk
“Police units killed ISIL ‘Mufti’ Abdullah Younis al-Badrani -- also known as Abu Ayyub al-Attar -- in a rocket attack near western Mosul’s Republican Hospital,” General Raed Shakir Jawdat, commander of Iraq’s Federal Police force, said in a statement.
He did not say when exactly the incident occurred.
A mufti is a Muslim legal expert authorized with issuing rulings, or fatwas, on religious matters.
“Police also targeted a terrorist concentration, including several foreign fighters, elsewhere in western Mosul, killing two prominent ISIL leaders,” Jawdat added.
He went on to identify one of the two slain terrorists as Abdul Qadir Mahmoud al-Hamdouni, otherwise known as Abu Sajee.
In a related development Thursday night, the Iraqi army announced the capture of Mosul’s main western entrance.
Earlier Thursday, army Lieutenant-General Abdul Amir Yarallah, commander of the Mosul campaign, said the army had retaken three more villages on western Mosul’s outskirts, along with the southern bank of the Tigris River, which runs through the war-battered city.
Army First Lieutenant Nayef al-Zubaidi, for his part, told Anadolu Agency that Iraqi security forces had received numerous appeals from civilian residents of ISIL-held areas to refrain from targeting homes being used by the terrorist group to carry out attacks.
“In many cases, militants are using the rooftops of residential homes as platforms from which to launch drones or deploy snipers," al-Zubaidi said.
"Local residents warn that targeting militants deployed this way could lead to the death of civilians trapped inside these homes," he added.
In February, Iraqi ground forces -- backed by a U.S.-led air coalition -- began fresh operations aimed at ousting ISIL from western Mosul, the terrorist group’s last bastion in northern Iraq.
The offensive is part of a wider campaign launched last October to retake the entire city, which ISIL overran in mid-2014.