Three senior ISIS leaders have been killed in recent weeks by U.S. airstrikes inside Iraq, including the terror group’s right-hand man, the Pentagon confirmed.
ABC News reported that the news comes as the American commander leading the U.S. effort against ISIS in Iraq and Syria says coalition efforts are having a “significant impact” on the terror group’s operations.
Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, disclosed the strikes against the ISIS leaders in an interview Thursday with the Wall Street Journal.
“It is disruptive to their planning and command and control,” Gen. Dempsey said. “These are high-value targets, senior leadership.”
“I can confirm that since mid-November, targeted coalition airstrikes successfully killed multiple senior and mid-level leaders within the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL),” said Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby, who used another name for ISIS.
“We believe that the loss of these key leaders degrades ISIL’s ability to command and control current operations against Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), including Kurdish and other local forces in Iraq,” said Kirby.
Martin confirms that the senior ISIS leaders killed were Abd al Basit, who was the top ISIS military commander in Iraq and Haji Mutazz, a top aide to the group’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. A November strike killed Radwin Talib, an ISIS “governor” in Iraq.
CBS News reported that a U.S. intelligence source revealed that Mutaaz, though not the “number two” of ISIS as commonly reported, was a very high-ranking and significant figure in the group, particularly in Iraq. Other sources told CBS News that Mutaaz, also known as Fadel Ahmad Abdullah al-Hiyali, oversaw the governance of provinces in Iraq under ISIS control. Another source says he was recently given the title of Governor of Deir Azzour province in Syria.
Mutaaz, a Ba’athist, was a former lieutenant colonel in Saddam Hussein’s Special Forces.
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