WASHINGTON (AP) — The Pentagon says that a U.S.-led coalition airstrike killed two senior Islamic State commanders last Saturday in northern Iraq, including a fighter considered to be the group's deputy minister of war.
Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook says the strike killed Basim Muhammad Ahmad Sultan al-Bajari and a lower level commander, Hatim Talib al-Hamduni.
Cook says Al-Bajari was a former member of al-Qaida who oversaw the Islamic State's fight in June 2014 to capture the northern city of Mosul and worked to consolidate the group's control over the city. Cook says that removing the two senior leaders will help as Iraqi forces and the coalition continue preparations to retake Mosul.
Iraqi leaders have pledged to retake Mosul this year, but U.S. officials say that timetable may not be realistic.