American-led coalition forces and U.S. aircraft have conducted an airstrike that killed a key ISIS commander on January 27.
Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Service troops were conducting a raid on the ISIS location about 10 miles west of Kirkuk when coalition aircraft hit the target killing Jabbar Salman Ali Farhan al-Issawi, also known as Abu Yasir al-Issawi, deputy commander and ISIS chief in Iraq, and 10 other ISIS members.
The strike comes just a week after a double suicide bombing that killed 32 people and injured 100 in a crowded Baghdad marketplace.
Al-Issawi is believed to have coordinated ISIS’s operations in Iraq and relayed guidance to the group’s fighters across the country from Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, the leader of the terrorist group. Al-Qurayshi’s whereabouts are unknown.
Al-Qurayshi took over command of ISIS in Iraq after his predecessor, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was killed in a raid by U.S. Army Delta Force operators in Syria in 2019.
ISIS had captured one-third of Iraqi territory and parts of Syria and declared a “caliphate” with Mosul as its capital. But they were slowly pushed out in bloody fighting. They now control little actual territory, but still, conduct a terror campaign against the people of Iraq and Syria.
ISIS had quickly taken responsibility for the deadly January 21 bombing in the Baghdad open-air market. The Iraqi government and intelligence service were under criticism for the large attack that was seen as an intelligence failure. The attack was the first of its scale in Baghdad in several years.
Therefore, the beleaguered government of Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi wasted little time in hailing the operation that killed al-Issawi as an Iraqi intelligence coup.
“We promised and fulfilled. I gave my word to pursue Daesh terrorists, we gave them a thundering response,” Kadhimi posted in Arabic on Twitter. “Our heroic armed forces have eliminated Daesh commander Abu Yaser Al-Issawi as part of an intelligence-led operation.”
“Long live Iraq and its patriotic armed forces,” he added.
However, the U.S.-led coalition claimed that American aircraft, not Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Service troops, killed the ISIS commander in the January 27 airstrike.
Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR), spokesman Colonel Wayne Marotto also took to Twitter and stated that the ISIS leader’s death was “another significant blow to Daesh resurgence efforts in Iraq.”
“The coalition aircraft were supporting an Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Service raid near Kirkuk, which killed the leader ‘Abu Yasir’ and 10 other ISIS members,” Marotto tweeted.
“The Coalition will continue to remove key leaders from the battlefield and degrade the terrorist organization. Terrorists — you will never live in peace — you will be pursued to the ends of the earth,” he added.
OIR troops now number just 2,500 as former President Trump had ordered the withdrawal of American troops from both Iraq and Afghanistan. However, in advising host nation forces, the U.S. troops continue to keep the pressure on ISIS.
On Friday, OIR announced that since the beginning of January, OIR partner forces in Iraq and Syria have conducted 82 operations against ISIS, “preventing 63 terrorists from committing acts of terror.”