The US military believes that it has killed the Islamic State's second in command, Abd al-Rahman Mustafa al-Qaduli.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter told a news conference that US forces killed Qaduli in Syria, but would not specify if he was killed by an airstrike or by US special operations troops deployed to kill and capture high value Islamic State militants.
"We are systematically eliminating ISIL's cabinet," Carter said, while also emphasizing how difficult that goal will be to achieve.
"Striking leadership is necessary, but as you know it's far from sufficient," he said. "As you know leaders can be replaced. These leaders have been around for a long time — they are senior and experienced and eliminating them is an important objective and result. They will be replaced and we will continue to go after their leadership."
Carter said Qadulli was the Islamic State's finance minister, and was known by the nom de guerre, Haji Imam.
The US State Department had offered a $7 million bounty for Qaduli, who previously was a member of al Qaeda in Iraq, where he rose to second in command under the group's leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Zarqawi was killed by a US airstrike in 2006.
The operations came as US officials said they were helping Iraqis prepare for a major operation in Mosul to take back territory from the militant group, which aims to establish a caliphate in Iraq and Syria.
US Marine General Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the Pentagon expects increased capabilities will be provided to Iraqis in preparation for Mosul operations in the coming months.
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