The family of British teenager Talha Asmal, 17 have expressed "grief" over reports that a young Britain had been killed while with Islamic State in Iraq.
His family paid tribute to the teenager as a "loving, kind, caring" boy who they said was exploited by extremists "in a process of deliberate and calculated grooming of him".
Late yesterday evening some news outlets via their online platforms carried a story that a young Britain had been killed whilst with ISIS in Iraq.
Although the information within these reports has not been confirmed and the relevant UK authorities are working hard to verify the facts, we can confirm that the photographs shown of a youth purportedly named Abu Yusuf Al Britany appear to show our 17 year old son Talha.
Talha comes from a close knit, hardworking, peace loving and law abiding British Muslim family. The entire family unreservedly condemns and abhors all acts of violence wherever perpetrated.
Talha himself was a loving, kind, caring and affable teenager. He never harboured any ill will against anybody nor did he ever exhibit any violent, extreme or radical views of any kind.
Talha’s tender years and naivety were it seems however exploited by persons unknown who hiding behind the anonymity of the world wide web targeted and befriended Talha and engaged in a process of deliberate and calculated grooming of him. As a result of this and completely unbeknown to us, his family and entirely against our wishes he ended up travelling it seems to Iraq.
We are all understandably grief stricken and do not propose to make any further press statements at this stage.
Hundreds more US troops are being sent to Iraq to help train them to fight Islamic State militants - but critics say more action is needed.Read the full story ›
At least 20 people have been killed in a series of explosions across the Iraqi capital today.
The deadliest attack was thought to have been in eastern Baghdad, where a car bomb exploded near a restaurant in Palestine Street, killing nine people.
Police and medical sources said at least 20 people had died in the blasts, Reuters news agency reported.
Sources told Reuters four people, including three soldiers, were killed when a bomb struck an army patrol in the Hussainiya district on Baghdad's northern outskirts
Three people reportedly died in another bombing in the Saydiya district of southern Baghdad, while another three were understood to have been killed in a blast in the western Amriya quarter.
Earlier in the day three militants disguised in military uniform killed at least eight people in a local government office in Amiriyat al-Falluja, on the western fringe of Baghdad.
Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack in Amiriyat al-Falluja, in which one attacker blew himself up inside the building.
America and its allies carried out 19 air strikes targeting Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria since early on Thursday, the Combined Joint Task Force said in a statement.
In Syria, air strikes using bomber, attack and fighter aircraft hit near al Hasaka and Dayr Az Zawr, the task force said.
In Iraq, air strikes conducted using bomber, attack, fighter and drone aircraft targeted areas near Baghdadi, Bayji, Falluja, Makhmur, Mosul, Sinjar and Tal Afar.
The air strikes were conducted between 8am local time on Thursday and 8am on Friday
Tariq Aziz, the former Iraqi minister regarded as the mouthpiece of Saddam Hussein's regime, has died at the age of 79, according to reports.
Iraqi media claims Aziz suffered a fatal heart attack in an Iraqi prison.
Aziz served as foreign minister and deputy prime minister under Hussein until the regime's fall in 2003.
He was sentenced to death by the Iraqi Supreme Court in 2010 for his connection with the persecution of religious parties.
Britain will increase financial assistance to Iraq to help in the battle against Islamic State militants, Philip Hammond has announced.
A reported £2 million will be contributed to a new United Nations fund, while Britain will continue to make a "significant contribution to intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance efforts" in the fight against the terror group.
The money will go towards a UN Funding Facility for Immediate Stabilisation (FFIS) that will push resources into areas as they are cleared of IS fighters.
The Foreign Secretary confirmed the contribution after attending an anti-IS summit with international ministers in Paris on Tuesday at which Iraq's prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, said his country needed "the support of the world" but "we are not getting it" in pushing back the IS advance.
A group monitoring the war said Islamic State blew up a major prison complex in the central Syrian city of Palmyra.
The prison was empty at the time of the detonation, said Rami Abdulrahman from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The sprawling complex is not located among the city's ancient ruins. Islamic State captured the city, also known as Tadmur, from government forces earlier this month.
The UK is preparing to send troops into the more dangerous parts of northern Iraq in support of the US military mission to train local forces to fight so-called Islamic State fighters.
The Times reports that the prospect of expanding the British mission to Iraq from the relative safety of Kurdish held areas has been raised at a meeting of the National Security Council, chaired by David Cameron.
It is understood that the British Army is ready to go ahead, but it is awating political approval from ministers.
The operation would involve the deployment of a specialist team of experts in countering roadside bombs - improvised explosive devices (IEDs) - to work alongside American trainers.
They would be based in the capital Baghdad but could also operate outside the city where the US is conducting training of Iraqi forces preparing to take on IS
Government officials have confirmed British military "extensive air and training support" to Iraqi forces fighting Islamic State insurgents.
They outlined a number of recent airstrikes including:
- May 19 A Reaper aircraft and two Tornado GR4s patrolling northern Iraq attacked a number of bunkers with Hellfire missiles and Paveway precision bombs
- May 20 Tornados struck a weapons store, a weapons cache in a tunnel and a camouflaged position (video above)
- May 22 A Reaper successfully engaged terrorists burying improvised explosive devices next to a road
- May 24 Islamic State armoured vehicle, buildings and bulldozer packed with explosives destroyed
Iraq has formally announced the beginning of a military operation to liberate the western province of Anbar from Islamic State insurgents.
Ahmed al-Assadi, a spokesman for the Shi'ite paramilitaries known as Hashid Shaabi, which are are taking part, said in a news conference broadcast on the state TV channel that the operation had been named "Labeyk Ya Hussein".
The Iraqi government is scrambling to reverse its biggest military setback in nearly a year, the fall of Ramadi, capital of Anbar province west of Baghdad. Prime Minister Haidar Abadi has vowed to recapture it within days.