Three ISIS leaders killed in recent strikes - US military

Col Warren (above) said strikes had killed ISIS' finance minister.
Col Warren (above) said strikes had killed ISIS' finance minister.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - The US-led coalition fighting Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants has killed the group's finance minister and two other senior leaders in air strikes in recent weeks, a US military spokesman said on Thursday.

Army Colonel Steve Warren told a Pentagon briefing coalition strikes had killed Abu Salah, ISIS' finance minister, in late November.

"He was one of the most senior and experienced members of ISIL's financial network and he was a legacy Al Qaeda member," Warren said, using an alternative acronym for the group.

Warren said Salah was the third member of the finance network who had been killed in as many months.

"Killing him and his predecessors exhausts the knowledge and talent needed to coordinate funding within the organisation," Warren added.

According to a Brooking Institute report, Abu Salah's real name is Muafaq Mustafa Mohammed al- Karmoush.

Warren said a senior leader responsible for coordinating the group's extortion activities and another leader who acted as an executive officer had also been killed.

ISIS, which the United States calls the wealthiest militant group of its kind in history, has a number of revenue streams.

It has built up what amounts to a "durable and resilient financial portfolio," funded by oil sales, extortion, and sales of antiquities, said Thomas Sanderson, an expert on terrorism at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies.

Recently, US defence officials estimated that ISIS was earning about US$47 million (S$65 million) a month from oil sales prior to October.

That same month, the Pentagon started an operation known as "Tidal Wave II" targeting ISIS' oil revenue.

Warren said it was too early to tell what the impact of the strikes had been and that it was similar to a boxing match.

"You work the body in (the) early rounds and maybe you won't get a knockout from those early round body shots, but several rounds later you'll see your... opponents knees begin to get weak ... and now he's beginning to get set up for the knockout," Warren said.