US military denies bombing mosque in Iraq

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The US military on Wednesday denied that coalition aircraft bombed a mosque in Iraq after Baghdad officials said American-led warplanes had targeted Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants meeting at the mosque in Tal Afar.

US Central Command, which is overseeing the air war against the ISIS group, said "we can confirm that coalition aircraft did not strike a mosque as some of the press reporting has alleged."

The statement came after Iraq's ministry of defense said the US-led coalition had gone after several senior leaders of the ISIS group, including the outfit's second-in-commmand, in a strike on a gathering in the Martyrs' Mosque in Tal Afar's Al-Ayadiya district.

The US military also said it had "no information to corroborate" that the ISIS group's second-in-command, Abu Alaa al-Afari, had been killed.

The Iraqi government statement did not make clear if it believed Afari had been killed in the strike.

Afari's name emerged last month in reports claiming that ISIS head Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was incapacitated in a coalition strike and handed over the helm of the organisation to Afari.

The Pentagon has said there was no evidence to indicate Baghdadi had been wounded.