WASHINGTON, July 01, 2016 — Coalition forces conducted an airstrike that killed two Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant senior military commanders June 25 near Mosul, Iraq, Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said today.
In a statement, Cook said the precision strike killed Basim Muhammad Ahmad Sultan al-Bajari, ISIL's deputy minister of war, and Hatim Talib al-Hamduni, an ISIL military commander in Mosul.
“These deaths are the latest in coalition efforts to systemically eliminate ISIL's cabinet wherever they hide, disrupting their ability to plot external terror attacks and hold onto the territory they use to claim legitimacy,” the press secretary said. “The international coalition fighting ISIL, working with local, capable and motivated forces on the ground in Iraq and Syria continues to make sustained progress in our campaign to deal ISIL a lasting defeat.
Seizing Every Opportunity
“In just recent days,” he continued, “the coalition has freed Fallujah from ISIL's grip; launched devastating strikes against ISIL forces fleeing that city; completed the encirclement of Manbij, a key node in the flow of foreign fighters between Syria and Turkey; and started to clear key terrain south of Mosul of ISIL forces. In addition to making operationally significant strides in the campaign to defeat ISIL, we continue to look for -- and seize -- every opportunity to hasten it.”
Bajari was an experienced terrorist, a former member of al-Qaida who brought his military skills into ISIL's terrorist network, Cook said. He oversaw ISIL's June 2014 offensive to capture Mosul, and also has led the ISIL Jaysh al-Dabiq battalion, which is known for using vehicle-borne bombs, suicide bombers and mustard gas in its attacks.
“He used his military experience to consolidate ISIL's control over Mosul, where they have engaged in dictatorial rule and sectarian murder and oppression since 2014,” he added. Hamduni was an ISIL military commander in Mosul and the head of military police for the self-proclaimed Ninawa state, Cook said.“Their deaths, along with strikes against other ISIL leaders in the past month, have critically degraded ISIL's leadership experience in Mosul and removed two of their most senior military members in northern Iraq,” the press secretary said. “Removing these terrorist leaders from the battlefield shapes the environment for Iraqi forces to ultimately liberate Mosul with support from the international coalition. Because of our strategy and our determination to accelerate our campaign, momentum is now on our side, and not on ISIL's.”