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Apr 21, 1:36 PM EDT

US: Operative linked to Istanbul bombing has been killed

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. military says it has killed an Islamic State operative from Uzbekistan linked to the New Year's Eve attack on an Istanbul nightclub that killed 39 people.

The operative, Abdurakhmon Uzbeki (abdoo-rakman ooz-beki), is alleged to have been a "close associate" of IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (ah-boo oh-mar ahl bahg-dahd-ee).

Central Command spokesman, Col. John Thomas, said Uzbeki was killed in a ground operation April 6 near Mayadan, in eastern Syria.

Thomas said Uzbeki helped IS move foreign fighters and funds, and played a key role in plotting terror attacks. Thomas didn't provide details on Uzbeki's role in the Istanbul attack, in which a gunman opened fire inside a crowded nightclub. Dozens of people were wounded.

Thomas was speaking via teleconference to Pentagon reporters Friday.

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