Statement by Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook on strike targeting ISIL military commanders
Coalition forces conducted an airstrike against two ISIL senior military commanders on June 25 near Mosul, Iraq, resulting in their deaths. The precision strike killed Basim Muhammad Ahmad Sultan al-Bajari, ISIL's deputy minister of war, and Hatim Talib al-Hamduni, an ISIL military commander in Mosul.
These deaths are the latest in coalition efforts to systemically eliminate ISIL's cabinet wherever they hide, disrupting their ability to plot external terror attacks and hold onto the territory they use to claim legitimacy. The international coalition fighting ISIL, working with local, capable, and motivated forces on the ground in Iraq and Syria, continues to make sustained progress in our campaign to deal ISIL a lasting defeat. In just recent days, the coalition has freed Fallujah from ISIL's grip; launched devastating strikes against ISIL forces fleeing that city; completed the encirclement of Manbij, a key node in the flow of foreign fighters between Syria and Turkey; and started to clear key terrain south of Mosul of ISIL forces. In addition to making operationally significant strides in our campaign to defeat ISIL, we continue to look for - and seize - every opportunity to hasten it.
Al-Bajari was an experienced terrorist, a former member of al Qaeda who brought his military skills into ISIL's terrorist network. He oversaw ISIL's June 2014 offensive to capture Mosul, and has also led the ISIL Jaysh al-Dabiq battalion known for using vehicle-borne IEDs, suicide bombers and mustard gas in its attacks. He used his military experience to consolidate ISIL's control over Mosul, where they have engaged in dictatorial rule and sectarian murder and oppression since 2014. Hatim Talib al-Hamduni was an ISIL military commander in Mosul and the head of military police for self-proclaimed Ninawa state.
Their deaths, along with strikes against other ISIL leaders in the past month, have critically degraded ISIL's leadership experience in Mosul and removed two of their most senior military members in Northern Iraq. Removing these terrorist leaders from the battlefield shapes the environment for Iraqi forces to ultimately liberate Mosul with support from the international coalition. Because of our strategy and our determination to accelerate our campaign, momentum is now on our side and not on ISIL's.