IS 2nd-in-Command Killed in Airstrike

IS 2nd-in-Command Killed in AirstrikeIS 2nd-in-Command Killed in Airstrike

The second-in-command of the Islamic State militant group was killed during a US airstrike in Iraq on Tuesday, the White House said on Friday, dealing a blow to the group that has sought to form a caliphate in Iraq and Syria.

“Fadhil Ahmad al-Hayali, also known as Hajji Mutazz ... was killed in a US military airstrike on August 18 while traveling in a vehicle near Mosul, Iraq, along with an IS media operative known as Abu Abdullah,” White House spokesman Ned Price said in a statement, Reuters reported.

The White House said the dead leader was a “primary coordinator” for moving weapons, explosives, vehicles and people between Iraq and Syria. He was in charge of operations in Iraq and helped plan the group’s offensive in Mosul in June last year.

Mutazz was a lieutenant colonel in the army of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and like many who later went on to form the core of Islamic State’s leadership, was detained by US troops in Iraq at the Camp Bucca detention facility, said Harleen Gambhir, a counterterrorism analyst at the Institute for the Study of War.

The US and its allies stage daily airstrikes on IS targets in the group’s self-declared caliphate based in Iraq and Syria. A drone strike last month killed a senior IS leader in its Syrian stronghold of Raqqa.

However, despite more than 5,500 airstrikes since August 8, 2014 that have killed an estimated 15,000 IS insurgents, it is estimated the group still has 20,000 to 31,500 fighters as new recruits flow into the region.