SYDNEY - The Australian government is attempting to verify whether an Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighter, notorious for being photographed with severed heads, survived a drone attack after a report said he was still alive.
Local media last week reported that two of Australia's most wanted ISIS militants, Khaled Sharrouf and Mohamed Elomar, were believed to have been killed in a drone strike in Syria.
But highly classified photographs of the Predator strike have confirmed only the death of Elomar, with no indications that Sharrouf also died, The Sunday Telegraph reported.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott previously said his government had a "high degree of confidence" that Elomar had been killed in a coalition air strike but could not say the same for Sharrouf.
The Telegraph said the classified photos showed Elomar standing next to a vehicle that was part of a convoy of ISIS fighters in Syria.
Another image taken moments later showed an explosion as the convoy was hit by a missile, with a third image showing the debris left by the strike.
"Our security and intelligence agencies are working to verify reports that Khaled Sharrouf survived a coalition air strike which is believed to have killed Mohamed Elomar," Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop said yesterday.
Sharrouf gained global infamy last year when he posted pictures on his Twitter account showing himself and his then seven-year-old, Sydney-raised son holding up the severed heads of slain Syrian soldiers.
Meanwhile, 12 students, including British, Canadian, Sudanese and US citizens, are feared to have travelled from Khartoum to Turkey to try to join ISIS, their university's dean told AFP. Another group of British students of Sudanese origin from the same private University of Medical Sciences and Technology travelled to Turkey in March and it is believed they crossed into Syria, said the dean, Dr Ahmed Babikir.
Khartoum airport authorities confirmed the group had travelled to Turkey and the students' families said they had not seen them since Friday.