A top ISIS leader killed in airstrike, Pentagon says

The New York Times reports: The United States this week killed a top Islamic State commander in Syria as part of a spate of military actions targeting the terrorist group’s leadership and explosives caches, Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter said on Friday.

The killing of a top commander, Abd al-Rahman Mustafa al-Qaduli, who is also known by other names, comes as the United States is having increased success targeting the Islamic State’s leadership. Last week, Defense Department officials concluded that American strikes had killed the group’s minister of war, Omar al-Shishani.

“We are systematically eliminating ISIL’s cabinet,” Mr. Carter said at a news conference, using an acronym for the group.

But he made clear that the challenge was not that simple.

“Striking leadership is necessary,” he said, “but as you know it’s far from sufficient. As you know leaders can be replaced. These leaders have been around for a long time — they are senior and experienced and eliminating them is an important objective and result. They will be replaced and we will continue to go after their leadership.”

Defense Department officials have declined to elaborate on why they are having more accuracy striking the group’s top commanders. Earlier this year, a special unit of American commandos tasked with identifying, capturing and killing the Islamic State’s leaders arrived in Iraq and began working closely with local forces there. [Continue reading…]

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