OAK BLUFFS, Mass. — The No. 2 leader of the Islamic State militant group was killed in a U.S. military airstrike in Iraq this week, the White House said Friday.
Ned Price, a spokesman for the White House National Security Council, said Fadhil Ahmad al-Hayali was traveling in a vehicle near Mosul, in northern Iraq, when he was killed Tuesday.
As the senior deputy to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, al-Hayali oversaw ISIS in Iraq and was the primary coordinator for moving large amounts of weapons, explosives, vehicles and people between Iraq and Syria, where ISIS militants control vast amounts of territory.
The United States is leading a coalition of countries that have spent the past year striking at ISIS militants, weaponry and machinery from the air but has made little progress in meeting President Barack Obama's goal to "degrade and destroy" the group, which has also beheaded hostages, including Americans.
Also killed in Tuesday's airstrike was an ISIS media operative known as Abu Abdullah.
Price characterized al-Hayali's death as a blow to the organization because his influence spanned finance, media, operations and logistics for the group.
But his removal from the scene is unlikely to affect ISIS operations or weaken the group and will most likely lead to even tighter security and secrecy around al-Baghdadi, whom Iraqi intelligence officials say has mostly kept out of sight since he was wounded in an Iraqi airstrike near the Syrian border this year.