U.S.-led air strikes kill several ISIS leaders

Haji Mutazz, a key deputy to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was among those killed in the strikes, officials told the Wall Street Journal

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U.S. airstrikes have killed several very senior military leaders of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff said Thursday and U.S. officials told the Wall Street Journal that a key aide to the chief of the militant group was among those killed.

Gen. Martin Dempsey, the Pentagon’s top uniformed officer, told The Wall Street Journal in an interview that the ISIS military leaders were killed in Iraq in recent weeks.

The strikes were designed to curb the group’s ability to conduct its own attacks, provide its fighters with supplies and financing, he told the daily.

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

The paper quoted officials as saying the Haji Mutazz, a key deputy to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was killed in one U.S. military airstrike. Another senior member was Abd al Basit, the head of Islamic State’s military operations in Iraq, the paper reported.

The strikes took place between Dec. 3 and Dec. 9.

Officials also told the newspaper that Radwin Talib, the ISIS ‘wali’ of Iraq’s second city Mosul was killed in an airstrike in late November.

Agence France-Presse quoted one official as saying that the leaders who were killed did not include the chief of the extremist group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

The fate of Baghdadi, the self-styled “caliph” of ISIS, remains unclear.

In early November, tribal sources told Al Arabiya News Channel that the ISIS leader was “critically wounded” when an air strike targeted the western Iraqi border town of al-Qaim.

At the time, the United States said it could not confirm whether the ISIS commander was killed or wounded following an air strike in Iraq.

The Wall Street Journal quoted other defense officials as saying that in addition to the most recent strikes, the U.S. has killed a number of “senior and midlevel Islamic State commanders.”

The officials believe the strikes are beginning to significantly weaken the group’s leadership structure in Iraq, the paper said.

(with AFP)