A veteran Iraqi fighter known as ‘the sheikh of snipers’ has been killed in Iraq’s battle to retake the town of Hawija from the so-called Islamic State group.
Abu Tahsin al-Salhi’s paramilitary force announced the news yesterday.
Abu, who took part in conflicts dating back to the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, and said he’d gunned down at least 320 IS jihadists, died in battle on Friday.
The 63-year-old, who proudly spoke of making at least four hits a day, was killed as he advanced on Hawija in northwest Iraq.
According to the Daily Mail, Ahmad al-Assadi, a spokesman for the Hashed al-Shaabi alliance mostly of Shiite militias fighting alongside government forces against the last jihadist bastions, broke the news.
At his funeral, near the southern port city of Basra, his close friend Ahmad Ali Hussein, said the marksman was widely known by comrades as ‘the sheikh of snipers’ or ‘hawk eye’.
‘The sheikh of snipers’ was a grey-bearded giant of a man, who drove an off-road motorbike and wore fingerless mittens.
He was said to be inseparable from his Austrian-manufactured Steyr rifle.
In a video last year, the warrior gave an insight into his career as a sniper, starting with 1973 when he was part of an Iraqi brigade fighting on Syria’s Golan Heights.
He spoke proudly about how militants feared the areas he defended, and in one video, pointed out to the distant landscape around him he said:
You see this area – I guarantee to God no one would come up it.
Abu, who fights for a Shia militia, fought in the Yom Kippur war, Saddam Hussein’s 1980-1988 war against Iran, the 1990 Invasion of Kuwait and against US troops who toppled Saddam in 2003, before turning his sights on IS.