US military airstrike kills No 2 IS chief in Iraq

22 August 2015

The second in command leader of the Islamic State militant group was killed in a US military airstrike in Iraq earlier this week, the White House said yesterday.

According to Ned Price, a spokesman for the White House National Security Council, Fadhil Ahmad al-Hayali was travelling in a vehicle near Mosul, in northern Iraq, when he was killed Tuesday.

The senior deputy to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, al-Hayali co-ordinated the movement of large amounts of weapons, explosives, vehicles and people between Iraq and Syria, where IS militants control vast amounts of territory.

The US is leading a coalition of countries that had spent the past year striking at IS militants, weaponry and machinery from the air but had not been able to make much progress in meeting president Barack Obama's goal to ''degrade and destroy'' the group, which had also beheaded hostages, including some Americans.

Overseeing IS operations in Iraq, over the past two years, Al-Hayali launched a major offensive in Mosul in June 2014.

He was also a member of al-Qaida in Iraq, the predecessor group to IS.

The airstrike also killed an IS media operative known as Abu Abdullah.

This was not the first time that US officials had announced Hayali's death.

US defence officials had told reporters on condition of anonymity in December, that Hayali was one of several senior figures killed in coalition strikes, giving another of his pseudonyms, Abu Muslim al-Turkmani.

The White House said, Al-Hayali, ''supported ISIL operations in both countries and was in charge of ISIL operations in Iraq, where he was instrumental in planning operations over the past two years, including the ISIL offensive in Mosul in June 2014,"  using another name for Islamic State.

Hayali had been a member of al-Qaida's Iraqi faction and was reportedly a former Iraqi officer from the era of Saddam Hussein.

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