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Anti-IS ‘sheikh sniper’ killed in battle for Iraq’s Hawija

A veteran fighter known as ‘the sheikh of snipers’ (pictured) has been killed in Iraq’s battle to retake the town of Hawija from the Islamic State group

A veteran fighter known as ‘the sheikh of snipers’ has been killed in Iraq’s battle to retake the town of Hawija from the Islamic State group, his paramilitary force announced on Saturday.

Abu Tahsin al-Salhi, who took part in conflicts dating back to the 1973 Arab-Israeli war and said he had gunned down at least 320 IS jihadists, died on Friday.

The 63-year-old was killed as he advanced on Hawija in northwest Iraq, said Ahmad al-Assadi, spokesman for the Hashed al-Shaabi alliance mostly of Shiite militias fighting alongside government forces against the last jihadist bastions.

At his funeral on Saturday near the southern port city of Basra, close friend Ahmad Ali Hussein said the marksman was widely known by comrades as ‘the sheikh of snipers’ or ‘hawk eye’.

A grey-bearded hulk of a man who drove an offroad motorbike and wore a black-and-white chequered scarf and fingerless mittens, Abu Tahsin was inseparable from his Austrian-manufactured Steyr rifle.

In a video from last year, the warrior gave a rundown of his career as a sniper, starting in 1973 when he was part of an Iraqi brigade fighting on Syria’s Golan Heights.

The pensioner, who has bullets longer than his fingers strapped to his belt, talks about what his powerful weapon does to his targets, saying it ‘pushes him back one meter before putting him down’.

A grey-bearded hulk of a man who drove an offroad motorbike and wore a black-and-white chequered scarf and fingerless mittens, Abu Tahsin was inseparable from his Austrian-manufactured Steyr rifle

A grey-bearded hulk of a man who drove an offroad motorbike and wore a black-and-white chequered scarf and fingerless mittens, Abu Tahsin was inseparable from his Austrian-manufactured Steyr rifle

Abu Tahsin al-Salhi, who took part in conflicts dating back to the 1973 Arab-Israeli war and said he had gunned down at least 320 IS jihadists, died on Friday

Abu Tahsin al-Salhi, who took part in conflicts dating back to the 1973 Arab-Israeli war and said he had gunned down at least 320 IS jihadists, died on Friday

Iraqi mourners hold a portrait of Abu Tahsin al-Salhi, a veteran sniper from the Hashed al-Shaabi units, during his funeral near the southern city of Basra

Iraqi mourners hold a portrait of Abu Tahsin al-Salhi, a veteran sniper from the Hashed al-Shaabi units, during his funeral near the southern city of Basra

Abu Tahsin al-Salhi, a veteran Iraqi sniper from the Hashed al-Shaabi units who boasted of having killed at least 320 Islamic State (IS) group fighters

Abu Tahsin al-Salhi, a veteran Iraqi sniper from the Hashed al-Shaabi units who boasted of having killed at least 320 Islamic State (IS) group fighters

He talks proudly about how militants fear the area he defends with his gun, pointing to the miles of wide open space below, saying: ‘You see this area – I guarantee to god no-one would come up it’.

As he explains his role in the conflict, Mr Tahseen, who has fought in the Yom Kippur war, Iran-Iraq war, Invasion of Kuwait, Gulf War, hears chatter on the radio.

He then settles to take aim, and talks to his spotter has he looks down at the open ground below through his sights, and allegedly sees another sniper and his spotter.

‘He’s sitting next to him, right? or am I mistaken?,’ he says to his spotter, who agrees that he can see their heads showing.

The 63-year-old was killed as he advanced on Hawija in northwest Iraq, said Ahmad al-Assadi, spokesman for the Hashed al-Shaabi alliance

The 63-year-old was killed as he advanced on Hawija in northwest Iraq, said Ahmad al-Assadi, spokesman for the Hashed al-Shaabi alliance

He also fought in late dictator Saddam Hussein's 1980-1988 war against Iran, his 1990 invasion of Kuwait and against US troops who toppled Saddam in 2003, before turning his sights on IS

He also fought in late dictator Saddam Hussein’s 1980-1988 war against Iran, his 1990 invasion of Kuwait and against US troops who toppled Saddam in 2003, before turning his sights on IS

He then peers though his sights, sitting deadly still, as he takes aim and presses the trigger, and tying to control the huge rifle’s massive kickback.

The shot shakes the sniper, but he doesn’t remove his eye from the sights, watching for a few seconds until he sees the shot hit his target.

Tahsin, who fights for a Shia militia, then says: ‘Sweet. Prayers to Mohammed and his family. Yes. Down in the valley.’

He also fought in late dictator Saddam Hussein’s 1980-1988 war against Iran, his 1990 invasion of Kuwait and against US troops who toppled Saddam in 2003, before turning his sights on IS.

‘Today, I gunned down two of them (IS fighters). That’s ridiculous — the minimum for me is four,’ he says in the video. In anti-IS battles in 2015 ‘I killed 173 of them, and now I’m at 320.’

The sniper joined the Popular Mobilization Units as a volunteer to defend Iraq was stationed at Makhoul Mountains in North Baiji

The sniper joined the Popular Mobilization Units as a volunteer to defend Iraq was stationed at Makhoul Mountains in North Baiji

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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