US air strike kills 'ISIS number two': White House

A US Marine Corps F-35B joint strike fighter jet.
A US Marine Corps F-35B joint strike fighter jet.REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The second-in-command of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group has been killed in a US air strike in northern Iraq, the White House said Friday.

The National Security Council identified the slain militant as Fadhil Ahmad al-Hayali, also known as Haji Mutaz, and said he was ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's senior deputy.

This is not the first time that US officials have announced Hayali's death.

In December, US defence officials, speaking to reporters on condition of anonymity, said he was one of several senior figures killed in coalition strikes, giving another of his pseudonyms, Abu Muslim al-Turkmani.

But US forces now say they were able to kill him, along with an ISIS "media operative" known as Abu Abdullah, on Aug 18 in a strike on a vehicle near the city of Mosul.

The White House described Hayali as a member of the Islamic State's ruling council, and "a primary coordinator for moving large amounts of weapons, explosives, vehicles and people between Iraq and Syria.

"He supported ISIL operations in both countries and was in charge of ISIL operations in Iraq, where he was instrumental in planning operations over the past two years, including the ISIL offensive in Mosul in June 2014," it said, using an alternative acronym for ISIS.

Like many senior Iraqi militants, before joining the ISIS group, Hayali had been a member of Al-Qaeda's Iraqi faction.

He was reportedly a former Iraqi officer from the era of Saddam Hussein.