A coalition air strike near the Islamic State (IS) bastion of Mosul in Iraq has killed two of the jihadist group’s senior military leaders, the Pentagon said Friday.
“Coalition forces conducted an air strike against two IS senior military commanders on June 25 near Mosul, Iraq, resulting in their deaths,” Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said in a statement.
“The precision strike killed Basim Muhammad Ahmad Sultan al-Bajari, IS’s deputy minister of war, and Hatim Talib al-Hamduni, an IS military commander in Mosul.”
Cook said al-Bajari was a former al Qaeda member who joined the IS group and oversaw the June 2014 offensive to capture Mosul.
He “also led the IS Jaysh al-Dabiq battalion known for using vehicle-borne IEDs (homemade bombs), suicide bombers and mustard gas in its attacks.”
Al-Hamduni was a military commander in Mosul and the head of military police in the region, Cook said.
Mosul is Iraq’s second-largest city and became the IS group’s de facto Iraq capital.
Iraqi security forces have in recent weeks made significant progress against the IS group, including the recapture of the city of Fallujah this month.
Attention is now shifting to Mosul, where a battle to liberate the city is expected to unfold in the coming months.
“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.