The deputy leader of ISIS has been killed in an American airstrike on Tuesday 18 August, near Mosul, in Iraq.
Ned Price, a spokesperson for the US National Security Council, made the announcement in a statement from the White House on Friday 21 August.
“Fadhil Ahmad al-Hayali, also known as Hajji Mutazz, the second in command of the terrorist group ISIL, was killed in a U.S. military air strike on August 18,” said Price.
“Al-Hayali was an ISIL Shura Council member … He 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.”
The US government has revealed little information about the specifics of the strike due to its sensitivity. However, a US official told CNN that the strike was based on “actionable intelligence”, meaning that the US government knew where Mutazz would be located and when he would be there.
Several major news organisations had previously reported Mutazz as dead in 2014, based on information from senior US administration officials.
A senior official with the American-led coalition that is fighting the Islamic State told the New York Times that this time they are “100 percent certain” that Mutazz is dead. “We have multiple confirmations [that] he was in the car at the moment of the strike.”
Mutazz was an ethnic Turk born in Tal Afar, northern Iraq. Mutazz served as an army commander under the late Saddam Hussein, later joining the anti-US insurgency in protest of the 2003 US invasion of Iraq.
The US and its coalition partners have for months been conducting airstrikes against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. In Iraq, where ISIS has taken control of a number of towns and cities, American military have targeted many senior leaders as part of what the White House says is an effort to “degrade and destroy” the militant group.
Since 2014 the US military has eliminated several of ISIL chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s deputies, though these operatives have been quickly replaced.