US & Canada

Islamic State 'deputy' killed in air strike, US says

Smoke billows following an air strike as members of the Iraqi government forces hold a position on the western outskirts of Tikrit, on 27 March 2015, Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption US-led coalition air strikes have been targeting Islamic State in Iraq and Syria for more than a year

A deputy leader of Islamic State (IS), Fadhil Ahmad al-Hayali, has been killed in a US military strike in northern Iraq, the White House says.

Hayali, also known as Hajji Mutazz, is described by US officials as the second in command of the group.

They said he was killed in an attack on his car in Mosul on Tuesday, and that his death would damage IS operations.

A number of IS leaders have been killed by US-led air coalition strikes in both Iraq and Syria in recent months.

'Wide influence'

Hayali was a primary co-ordinator for moving large amounts of weapons, explosives, vehicles and people between Iraq and Syria, the US National Security Council's Ned Price said in a statement.

In Iraq, Hayali was "instrumental in planning operations over the past two years, including the IS offensive in Mosul in June 2014", Mr Price said.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The air strikes have helped Kurdish forces to take back large parts of northern Iraq from IS

He is described as "the senior deputy" to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was reportedly seriously injured in another air strike by the US-led coalition in March this year.

"Hayali's death will adversely impact IS's operations given that his influence spanned IS's finance, media, operations, and logistics," Mr Price added.

A second IS member who co-ordinated media, known as Abu Abdullah, was killed in the same air strike as Hayali.

Image copyright AP
Image caption The White House describes Hayali as the second-in-command to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (above)

It comes several months after Iraqi defence officials declared another "IS second-in-command", Abdul Rahman Mustafa Mohammed, dead in an air strike in northern Iraq.

Mohammed, also known as Abu Alaa al-Afari, was killed inside a mosque hit by a strike in Tal Afar in May, they reported.

At the time, there were unconfirmed reports Afari had taken temporary charge of IS operations amid reports IS leader Baghdadi had become incapacitated.

In June this year, the US reported that more than 10,000 IS fighters had been killed since the international coalition began its campaign against the group last summer.