U.S. confirms airstrike killed two Islamic State commanders

WASHINGTON, July 2 (UPI) — The United States confirmed an airstrike near Mosul killed two senior Islamic State commanders.

According to a statement by the Pentagon a “precision strike” on June 25 killed Basim Muhammad Ahmad Sultan al-Bajari, IS’s deputy minister of war, and Hatim Talib al-Hamduni, an IS military commander in Mosul.

“These deaths are the latest in coalition efforts to systemically eliminate [IS’s] cabinet wherever they hide, disrupting their ability to plot external terror attacks and hold onto the territory they use to claim legitimacy,” Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said. The extremist group is also called ISIL, ISIS and Daesh.

Cook described al-Bajari as “an experienced terrorist” and former al-Qaida member who oversaw the June 24 offensive to capture Mosul.

“He used his military experience to consolidate [IS’s] control over Mosul, where they have engaged in dictatorial rule and sectarian murder and oppression since 2014,” he said.

Al-Hamduni was a military commander in Mosul and the head of military police for self-proclaimed Ninawa state, Cook said that removing threats like these two help change the sway of momentum in the fight against the IS.

“Their deaths, along with strikes against other IS leaders in the past month, have critically degraded [IS’s] leadership experience in Mosul and removed two of their most senior military members in Northern Iraq,” he said. “Removing these terrorist leaders from the battlefield shapes the environment for Iraqi forces to ultimately liberate Mosul with support from the international coalition.”

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