The United States is making progress in our mission to degrade and defeat ISIL, not only by supporting local forces on the battlefield, but also by eliminating some of its key leaders. In May, Abu Sayyaf, a key ISIL financier who reportedly managed the group’s illegal oil sales, was killed in Syria in a U.S. raid; his wife, Umm Sayyaf, was captured.
On August 18, ISIL’s second in command, Fadhil Ahmad al Hayali, also known as Hajji Mutazz, died in a U.S. military air strike near Mosul. National Security Council Spokesman Ned Price said that Al-Hayali’s death “will adversely impact ISIL’s operations, given that his influence spanned ISIL’s finance, media operations and logistics.”
On August 24, ISIL operative Junaid Hussain, who was involved in actively recruiting and inciting ISIL sympathizers in the west to carry out lone wolf attacks, was killed in a U.S. military airstrike in Raqqah, Syria.
State Department Spokesperson John Kirby has noted that while ISIL is proving to be a determined enemy of the Syrian and Iraqi people, these deaths show that ISIL fighters are “not invincible.” Their leaders’ deaths also demonstrate, he said, that “[t]his is a career path with a short shelf life. If that is what you want to choose to do with your life; you’re going to be held to account.”
Spokesperson Kirby has also noted that there are times when ISIL has and will achieve a tactical advance. But if an observer looks at what the Coalition and indigenous forces on the ground have achieved over the past year, what can be seen is “a steady diminution of [ISIL’s] power and influence. …They are shrinking their territorial gains and they are losing leaders; they are losing foot soldiers, they are losing equipment that they can’t…readily replace.”
Recently the Pentagon announced another important development in the fight against ISIL. Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook noted that “[t]he United States and Turkey have finalized technical details for Turkey’s full integration into the Coalition’s air tasking order.”
This means, he said, Turkey is now going to be flying alongside with other coalition aircraft – a significant step forward. He noted that Turkey is already allowing the use of Turkish bases for U.S. strike[s] and supporting aircraft.
“That's been a very important force multiplier,” said Press Secretary Cook, “as we expect it will continue to complement our efforts to pressure ISIL on a number of fronts.”