Australia finding out if two nationals were killed in Iraq

Canberra, June 23 (IANS) Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop on Tuesday said that the government is working to confirm reports that two jihadis have been killed while fighting with Islamic State (IS) in Iraq.

Khaled Sharrouf and Mohamed Elomar travelled to Syria and then Iraq in 2013, with Sharrouf using his brother’s passport to leave Australia, ABC reported.

They shot to global infamy last year when photos were posted online of them holding the severed heads of pro-Syrian government soldiers.

Sharrouf was also wanted by Australian authorities for his role in the suspected shooting execution of an Iraqi official outside Mosul. Elomar’s postings on social media indicated he was a popular and influential figure among Australians who turned up to fight for IS.

A person close to one of the men’s families said that the pair died in fighting in the city of Mosul.

Another source close to the families said they were told Sharrouf and Elomar were killed by a drone strike in the past week.

Elomar’s body is believed to have been recovered but the remains of Sharrouf are missing.

“The likelihood of verification in relation to Elomar is probably imminent, however in relation to Sharrouf, we’re still seeking to verify the reports,” the foreign minister said.

“Given the security situation in Iraq it’s difficult for our authorities to gain the kind of information that would be required to verify these reports,” she added.

Australian police warrants were issued for both men last year, but they had long professed a desire to die on the battlefields of the Middle East and it was unlikely either would ever return to Australia to be arrested.

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