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Islamic State Group Leader Killed By US Drone Strike In Syria, Pentagon Official Says

| by Jared Keever

A U.S. drone strike has killed a senior member of the Islamic State group, a Department of Defense official said on July 2. 

Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a spokesman at the Pentagon, said in a statement that the U.S. killed Tariq al-Harzi during a drone strike in Shaddadi, Syria, on June 16, reports The Washington Post. 

“His death will impact ISIL's ability to integrate foreign terrorist fighters into the Syrian and Iraqi fight as well as to move people and equipment across the border between Syria and Iraq," Davis said, according to ABC News. ISIL is an acronym used to describe the Islamic State group, which is also sometimes called ISIS. 

“As an ISIL member, he worked to raise funds and recruit and facilitate the travel of fighters for the terrorist organization. Al-Harzi also worked to provide materiel to ISIL by procuring and shipping weapons from Libya to Syria for ISIL,” Davis added. 

Mike Rogers, national security commentator for CNN and former chairman of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee, called al-Harzi’s death a “big get” for U.S. forces and suggested it was a substantial blow to the Islamic State. 

“It will be very disruptive to their operation for at least some period of time,” Rogers said. 

Al-Harzi, a Tunisian national, was among the State Department’s most wanted Islamic State operatives. He is believed to have escaped from Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison during a 2013 Islamic State raid, according to CNN.

His name has been on the U.S. Designated Terrorist List since 2014 and the State Department had been offering a $3 million reward for information about him.

News of al-Harzi’s death comes less than a month after the Pentagon announced his brother, Ali al-Harzi, was killed in a June 15 airstrike in Mosul, Iraq. 

Ali al-Harzi was believed to have played a role in the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens, reports ABC News. 

Tariq al-Harzi was thought to be a more senior member of the Islamic State than his brother, reports CNN. 

A U.S. official, speaking to The Washington Post on condition of anonymity to discuss recent operations, said the two brothers were not thought to be working together during the time of their deaths. 

Sources: The Washington Post, ABC News, CNN

Photo Credit: U.S. State Department via ABC News