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Iraqi officials said Friday they believed that government forces killed Saddam Hussein's former deputy, Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, a fugitive since the 2003 invasion of Iraq who later allied himself with ISIS.
Al-Douri was known as the "king of clubs" in the deck of playing cards issued to help U.S. troops identify key members of Saddam's regime.
A senior Iraqi security official told NBC News they believe al-Douri was killed in the Himreen mountains by government forces.
A series of graphic photos issued by the government later Friday purport to be of al-Douri's corpse. A bright red beard and a moustache — the moustache was al-Douri's most distinguishing feature among Saddam's coterie — were visible in the photos.
“We are not 100 percent sure that the body belongs to Izat al-Douri,” the security official told NBC News.
“The government will do fingerprints and DNA tests in order to be sure that the one who was killed is Izzat al-Douri … we have to double confirm this.”
The security official added: “This is considered another great victory for the Iraqi government in its war against terrorism.”
Senior Iraqi regional commander Gen. Haider al-Basri told Iraqi state TV that al-Douri and nine bodyguards were killed by gunshots while riding in a convoy. Al-Basri did not elaborate on why the Iraqi forces opened fire at the convoy.
It is not the first time Iraqi officials claimed to have killed or captured al-Douri. In 2003, the government said it arrested al-Douri, circulating a photo of a bearded man who resembled the former Baathist. It later said the arrest was a case of mistaken identity.
— NBC News Staff
The Associated Press contributed to this report.