US air strike kills ‘ISIL number two’: White House

The second-in-command of Daesh or the self-styled ISIL takfiri terrorist group has been killed in a US air strike in northern Iraq, the White House said Friday.

The National Security Council identified the slain militant as Fadhil Ahmad al-Hayali, also known as Haji Mutaz, and said he was IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s senior deputy.

This is not the first time that US officials have announced Hayali’s death.

In December, US defense officials, speaking to reporters on condition of anonymity, said he was one of several senior figures killed in coalition strikes, giving another of his pseudonyms, Abu Muslim al-Turkmani. But US forces now say they were able to kill him, along with an IS “media operative” known as Abu Abdullah, on August 18 in a strike on a vehicle near the city of Mosul.

The White House described Hayali as a member of the Islamic State’s ruling council, and “a primary coordinator for moving large amounts of weapons, explosives, vehicles and people between Iraq and Syria”.

“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,” it said, using another name for Islamic State.

Like many senior Iraqi jihadists, before joining the IS group, Hayali had been a member of al Qaeda’s Iraqi faction.

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