On December 18, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Martin Dempsey said US airstrikes killed three ISIS leaders in Iraq in recent weeks. He said the strikes were part of “an expanding coalition effort” targeting “senior and Islamic state commanders.”
According to The Wall Street Journal, Dempsey said those killed in the airstrikes were “high-value targets [in] senior leadership.” In late November, U.S. strikes killed Radwin Talib, the ISIS “governor” in Mosul. Between December 3 and 9, U.S. strikes killed Abd al Basit, “the head of [ISIS’] military operations in Iraq.” They also killed Haji Mutazz in the December strikes.
Mutazz was “a key deputy to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.”
Dempsey said the U.S. is not fighting ISIS as “a nation-state” but “as a network of militants.” He said they claim nation-state status, “but they are not.” He said they are a “network” which possesses “finances…logistics…[and] leaders.”
An unnamed defense official said, “We’ve bombed their oil production, we struck the Humvees and MRAPs they stole from us and are now targeting their leadership.”
According to Fox News, Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby made the following comments:
We believe that the loss of these key leaders degrades [ISIS’] ability to command and control current operations against Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), including Kurdish and other local forces in Iraq. While we do not discuss the intelligence and targeting details of our operations, it is important to note that leadership, command and control nodes, facilities, and equipment are always part of our targeting calculus.
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