ISIS confirms killing of number two in U.S. air strike

In the same audio message, spokesman called for a 'holy war' against the Russiand the Americans in Syria

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The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group’s spokesman confirmed on Tuesday the killing of the militant organization’s second in command in a U.S. air strike earlier this year.

“America is rejoicing over the killing of Abu Mutaz al-Qurashi and considers this a great victory,” Abu Mohamed al-Adnani said in an audio recording posted on militant websites.

“I will not mourn him... he whose only wish was to die in the name of Allah... he has raised men and left behind heroes who, God willing, are yet to harm America,” he added.

Adnani did not say, however, in what circumstances Qurashi died.

But the White House, in an announcement on August 22, said that Qurashi, whose real name is Fadhil Ahmad al-Hayali, was killed on August 18 in a U.S. air strike near the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.

It said the strike targeted a vehicle and also killed an IS “media operative” known as Abu Abdullah.

The U.S. National Security Council said at the time that Hayali was IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s senior deputy.

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

In its August announcement the White House also said that Hayali “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,” using another name for ISIS.

Like many senior Iraqi militants, before joining the ISIS group, Hayali had been a member of Al-Qaeda’s Iraqi faction.

He was reportedly a former Iraqi officer from the era of Saddam Hussein.

‘Holy war’ against Russians

In the same audio message, al-Adnani called on Muslims to launch a “holy war” against Russians and Americans over what it called their “crusaders’ war” in the Middle East.

“Islamic youth everywhere, ignite jihad against the Russians and the Americans in their crusaders’ war against Muslims,” al-Adnani said.

ISIS militants launched a devastating offensive in Iraq in June 2014.

Beginning in Mosul, the country’s second city and capital of Nineveh province, they swept security forces aside and eventually overran around a third of the country.

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