The US has confirmed the second-in-command of the group calling itself Islamic State (ISIL) is dead.
Hajji Mutazz was killed in an US military air strike on Tuesday, dealing a blow to the group that has sought to form a caliphate in the Middle East.
“Fadhil Ahmad al-Hayali, also known as Hajji Mutazz … was killed in a US military air strike on August 18 while traveling in a vehicle near Mosul, Iraq, along with an ISIL media operative known as Abu Abdullah,” White House spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.
“Al-Hayali’s death will adversely impact ISIL’s operations given that his influence spanned ISIL’s finance, media, operations, and logistics,” Price said.
The White House said the dead leader was a “primary coordinator” for moving weapons, explosives, vehicles, and people between Iraq and Syria. He was in charge of operations in Iraq and helped plan the group’s offensive in Mosul in June of last year.
One counter-terrorism specialist cautioned that the impact of the killing on ISIL could be short-lived.
“My experience in looking at the Islamic State suggests they have demonstrated an ability to move people up into positions” when high-ranking operatives are killed, said Seth Jones, a former Pentagon official now at the RAND Corporation.