French extremist Rachid Kassim, suspected of inspiring several attacks in France, was targeted in a coalition airstrike near Mosul, but his death is not yet confirmed, the Pentagon said Friday (February 10th).
Earlier in the day, several French media reports had reported Kassim's death, according to AFP.
"We can confirm that coalition forces targeted Rashid Kassim, a senior 'Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant' (ISIL) operative, near Mosul in a strike in the past 72 hours," said Pentagon spokesman Major Adrian J.T. Rankine-Galloway.
"We are currently assessing the results of that strike and will provide more information when it becomes available," he said.
In Paris, a high-ranking official involved in counter-terror operations told AFP on condition of anonymity there was not "absolute confirmation" of his death, but that the probability was high.
Kassim, who is in his 30s, is believed to have inspired an attack last year in which a senior French policeman and his partner were knifed to death and another in which an elderly priest's throat was cut.
He is suspected of using the encrypted Telegram app to direct attacks on France from ISIL-controlled territory in Iraq or Syria.
Originally from Roanne in the Loire Valley, Kassim is suspected of guiding the attacks in France from Syria and has launched on the internet numerous murderous appeals.
Dressed in fatigues with a turban on his head, the black-bearded Kassim was seen in July in an ISIL propaganda video in which he praised the attacker in the Nice truck massacre that killed 86 people on the July 14th Bastille Day holiday.