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Pentagon: Top Islamic State lieutenants killed in Iraq

This image from a video provided by CENTCOM, released Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2014, shows an airstrike against Islamic State group vehicles Nov. 29, 2014, near Raqqa, Syria.

CENTCOM

By STARS AND STRIPES Published: December 18, 2014

U.S. airstrikes have killed several senior military leaders of Islamic State forces in Iraq, the Pentagon disclosed Thursday.

“I can confirm that since mid-November, targeted coalition airstrikes successfully killed multiple senior and midlevel leaders within the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL),” Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said in an statement.

“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.”

Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that three key Islamic State military leaders in Iraq were killed there in recent weeks during operations that are part of an expanding coalition effort ahead of a planned offensive next year.

Between Dec. 3 and Dec. 9, American airstrikes killed Abd al Basit, the head of Islamic State’s military operations in Iraq, and Haji Mutazz, a key deputy to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the group, officials told the Journal.

In late November, another strike killed a midlevel commander, Radwin Talib, Islamic State’s wali, or governor, in Mosul, officials told The Wall Street Journal.

The strikes in which the leaders were killed were designed to hamper the group’s ability to conduct its own attacks, supply its fighters and finance its operations, Dempsey said.

“It is disruptive to their planning and command and control,” Dempsey said. “These are high-value targets, senior leadership.”

“The success of these airstrikes,” Kirby said, “demonstrates the coalition’s resolve in enabling the ISF to disrupt and degrade ISIL as they continue to regain control of their territory.”

Ahmed Ali, an analyst at the Institute of the Study of War, a Washington-based think tank that closely monitors the developments, told the Journal that the recent strikes were significant.

“These are big hits, and eliminating these figures always temporarily disrupts the organization,” Ali said.

Ali described Mr. Mutazz, also known as Abu Muslim al-Turkmani, as one of Baghdadi’s “closest and most senior aides.”

Basit, also known as Abd al-Basit Inad Allah Mulla Gaidh, was considered the group’s top military expert, Ali said.

He told the Journal that Talib was also sometimes identified as Radwin Talib Hamdun.

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