Tal Afar – A senior Syrian member of the Islamic State was shot dead Monday outside his residence west of Mosul, according to a local source.
Abu Abdullah al-Halabi, the assistant head of the extremist group’s so-called “security committee”, was shot dead at the center of Tal Afar, a major Islamic State bastion west of Mosul, the source said.
IS members were put on high alert after the shooting, according to the source.
Islamic State have been holding Tal Afar since 2014, with the area becoming one of its most significant entrenchments in Nineveh province.
So far, offensives by the pro-government Popular Mobilization have isolated the town from the Syrian borders and from Mosul, and recaptured a main military base there.
Troops are currently besieging IS militants in central Mosul’s Old City, where they group declared its rule in Iraq in 2014.
The issue of Tal Afar’s invasion has been controversial since Iraqi government forces, backed by a U.S.-led coalition, launched an offensive in October to retake areas occupied by the Islamic State in Nineveh, most notably the city of Mosul.
The Shia-led Popular Mobilization has occasionally said its fighters were awaiting orders from Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to invade the mostly-Sunni Turkmen town. But regional Sunni powers, especially Turkey, had opposed the notion fearing sectarian consequences, obliging Abadi’s government to reassure that only the official forces would take up the mission.