Iraq checks claims fugitive Saddam VP killed

AFP , Friday 17 Apr 2015

FILE - in this Sunday, Dec. 1, 2002 file photo, Iraqi Vice chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council, Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri salutes during a ceremony at the Martyrs Monument in Baghdad, Iraq. (AP Photo)

Iraq will test the body of a man killed in clashes with pro-government forces who may be Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri, late president Saddam Hussein's long-fugitive deputy, officials said Friday.

Duri was vice president at the time of the 2003 US-led invasion. Nicknamed "The Iceman" for his humble origins selling blocks of ice, he was the King of Clubs in the US Army's deck of cards of most-wanted Iraqis.

He was suffering from leukaemia at the time of the invasion, and has previously been reported dead only to resurface in audio and video messages.

Salaheddin province Governor Raad al-Juburi said fighting in the province's Hamreen mountains area "killed 12 terrorists, among them Izzat al-Duri," but said testing was needed to provide confirmation.

Hadi al-Ameri, commander of the powerful Badr militia, said that 12 members of the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group were killed in the fighting, "and one of the bodies carries the features of Duri."

"We will test to confirm that the body belongs to Duri," he said.

And Ahmed al-Krayim, head of the Salaheddin provincial council, said a body resembling Duri had been recovered in the Hamreen area, but had yet to be identified.

Pictures circulated online showed the body of a man who bears some resemblance to Duri, but with a bushy red-dyed beard instead of the trimmed moustache he sported while in office.

The Army of the Men of the Naqshbandiyah Order -- known by its Arabic initials JRTN and believed to be close to Duri -- took part in a sweeping militant offensive that overran large areas north and west of The Army of the Men of the Naqshbandiyah Order -- known by its Arabic initials JRTN last June.

But little has been heard from JRTN and other groups in the months since, with the Islamic State group, which led the drive, dominating conquered territory.

Senior members of Saddam's Baath party, to which Duri belonged, have also reportedly played a major role in IS.

Iraqi security forces performed dismally in the early days of the IS offensive, but with backing from Shiite paramilitaries, US-led air strikes and Iran, have made major gains against IS in recent months.

Duri's home town of Dawr was retaken in March as part of an operation that eventually saw pro-government forces recapture Tikrit, Saddam's hometown.

Short link: