Canadian troops operating in east Mosul as mission extended to June

Ayad al-Jumaili, who is believed to have been Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's second-in-command, was killed on Saturday, the TV channel reported. It did not say when the raid was carried out.

Iraqi and US-led forces have been battling since October to retake Mosul where Baghdadi declared a caliphate almost three years ago.

Belgium has opened an investigation into the suspected involvement of Belgian fighter jets in air strikes in west Mosul that killed dozens of civilians, prosecutors said on Friday. They are examining whether the USA strike might have set off a larger blast from explosives set by militants in or near the building.

The Iraqi intelligence provided no details concerning the date of the airstrike on western Anbar province, though it noted that two more Daesh group leaders were killed in the airstrike.

Those four deaths bring the Pentagon's official tally of civilians killed by coalition airstrikes in the three-year fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to at least 229, though that estimate is far lower than estimates by outside groups.

Officials of the US -led anti-IS coalition had not confirmed the extremist's death by Saturday evening.

Iraqi and Kurdish security forces launched an operation last October to retake Iraq's second largest city, which has been under IS control since 2014.

Earlier this month, 400 Marines were quietly deployed to northern Syria to to support local militias fighting Islamic State, according to USA officials.

General Stephen Townsend, the senior USA commander in Iraq, said this week a coalition strike in the northern city earlier this month "probably" killed dozens of civilians.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday in a phone briefing from Iraq, he insisted that "our care, our caution, our applications of the rule of force. our tolerance for human casualties, none of that has changed".

US and Iraqi officials believe Baghdadi has left operational commanders with diehard followers to fight the battle of Mosul, and is now hiding out in the desert with senior commanders.

Canada is part of a coalition working with Iraqi troops to recapture territory taken over by the Islamist group, also known as Daesh, restore basic government services and enable citizens who fled to return to their homes.

  • Zachary Reyes