The Pentagon has confirmed that it killed two Islamic State (IS) military commanders in an airstrike near Mosul in Iraq.
The two commanders were identified as Basim Muhammad Ahmad Sultan al-Bajari, IS deputy minister of war, and Hatim Talib al-Hamduni, an IS military commander in Mosul,Pentagon said.
“These deaths are the latest in coalition efforts to systemically eliminate the IS cabinet wherever they hide, disrupting their ability to plot external terror attacks and hold onto the territory they use to claim legitimacy,” Pentagon Spokesperson Peter Cook said.
“The international coalition fighting the IS terrorist group, working with local, capable and motivated forces on the ground in Iraq and Syria, continues to make sustained progress in our campaign to deal the IS a lasting defeat,” he added.
The progress included the liberation of Fallujah, devastating strikes against the IS forces fleeing the city, and the completion of the encirclement of Manbij, as well as efforts to clear key terrain south of Mosul.
Bajari, a former member with Al-Qaeda militant group, who brought his military skills into the IS, oversaw the June 2014 offensive to capture Mosul, and has led the Jaysh Al-Dabiq battalion which is known for using vehicle-borne bombs, suicide bombers and mustard gas in its attacks, Cook said.
Hamduni was an IS military commander in Mosul and the head of military police for the self-proclaimed Ninawa state.
“Removing these terrorist leaders from the battlefield shapes the environment for Iraqi forces to ultimately liberate Mosul with support from the international coalition,” Cook said, adding that the “momentum is now on our side, and not on the IS”.