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'Australian IS Sniper' Reported Killed In Ramadi

Gunmen walk in the streets of the Iraqi city of Ramadi, 100 kilometers west of Baghdad, in January.

Gunmen walk in the streets of the Iraqi city of Ramadi, 100 kilometers west of Baghdad, in January.

An Islamic State (IS) group gunman "probably of Australian origin" has been killed in Ramadi, an RFE/RL correspondent in Iraq has reported.

The militant was killed on December 10 in clashes between Islamic State gunmen and Iraqi security forces in the southern district of Ramadi, Anbar's provincial capital. The clashes followed attacks by Islamic State on several areas of Ramadi on December 10.

There has been no official confirmation that the sniper killed in Ramadi was an Australian national.

However, the report comes amid growing concerns in Australia about citizens becoming radicalized and traveling to Syria to fight, with Australian Attorney General George Brandis accusing the group of using Western recruits as "cannon fodder."

Australia's national security service, the Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO), said on December 11 that at least 20 Australians have now been killed in Syria. ASIO Deputy Director-General Kerri Hartland said that the number of Australian nationals currently fighting with or supporting Islamic State in Syria remains stable at around 70 individuals.

The fact that the number of Australians suspected to be fighting in Syria has remained the same "does not reflect a reduction in the number of Australian travelers. Instead it reflects the relatively high casualty rate for Australians, with the numbers of new arrivals roughly keeping pace with the fatalities," Hartland said.

According to The Australian website, up to six Australian militants have been killed fighting with Islamic State in the Syrian town of Kobani.

Public fears about Australian Islamic State militants peaked in August, when graphic images were posted on social media of an Sydney man, Khaled Sharrouf and his seven year old son posing with the disembodied head of a Syrian soldier. The images were widely published and discussed in the Australian media.

Like other Western countries, Australia has adopted measures to try to prevent the flow of citizens traveling to Syria and Iraq. As in the U.K., Australia is canceling the passports of suspected jihadis who travel to Syria and Iraq to fight.

Some Australian lawmakers have opposed those measures, however, arguing that suspected terrorists should be arrested rather than being allowed to return to the suburbs after being prevented from traveling abroad.

In Britain, too, questions have been raised about whether canceling passports and denying citizens entry to their home country will solve the problem of radicalization. Dr. Alan Greene, a legal expert from Durham University in the U.K., wrote in September, before the U.K. introduced its new measures, that it was "difficult to see how temporarily denying an individual the right to enter the U.K. will somehow de-radicalize them or make them less of a threat to the U.K."

-- Joanna Paraszczuk

About This Blog

"Under The Black Flag" provides news, opinion, and analysis about the impact of the Islamic State (IS) extremist group in Syria, Iraq, and beyond. It focuses not only on the fight against terrorist groups in the Middle East, but also on the implications for the region and the world. The blog's primary author, James Miller, closely covered the first three years of the Arab Spring, with a focus on Syria, and is now the managing editor of The Interpreter, where he covers Russia's foreign and domestic policy and the Kremlin's wars in Syria and Ukraine. Follow him on Twitter: @Millermena