IS confirms killing of second-in-command, vows to 'defeat' Russia

IS confirms killing of second-in-command, vows to 'defeat' Russia
In a message posted on jihadi forums, an IS spokesman confirmed the group's second-in-command was killed in an August airstrike, but vowed the United States and Russia would be defeated
4 min read
14 October, 2015
The Islamic State is coming under increasing military pressure on all fronts [AFP]
On Tuesday, a spokesman for the Islamic State group (IS, formerly ISIS) confirmed the killing of the militant organisation's second in command in a US airstrike earlier this year.

"America is rejoicing over the killing of Abu Mutaz al-Qurashi and considers this a great victory," Abu Mohammad al-Adnani said in an audio recording posted on jihadi websites. Adnani did not say, however, in what circumstances Qurashi died.

But the White House, in an announcement on August 22, said that Qurashi, whose real name is Fadhil Ahmad al-Hayali, was killed on August 18 in a US airstrike near the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.

It said the strike targeted a vehicle and also killed an IS "media operative" known as Abu Abdullah.

The US National Security Council said at the time that Hayali was IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's senior deputy.

Qurashi, whose real name is Fadhil Ahmad al-Hayali, was killed on August 18 in a US airstrike near Mosul

According to information obtained by al-Araby al-Jadeed Arabic service, Qurashi hailed from the city of Tal Afar in Iraq. He served as a colonel in the former Iraqi army, and took part in battles with the Iranian army in 1987 during the Iraq-Iran war.

He was reportedly detained by the US army after the occupation of Baghdad. In prison, he met with al-Qaeda leader, and became close to the late Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Qurashi helped found the jihadist "caliphate" project, and until his death, he served as head of the military council that was responsible for planning the takeover of Iraqi cities.

Qurashi was reportedly a member of a major Iraqi clan.

The United States offered a $20 million reward to anyone who provided information that could help hunt him down. His death is a major blow to the radical organisation.

On Sunday, the Iraqi air force killed eight senior figures from IS in western Iraq, but IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, thought to have been present in the convoy that was hit, was not one of them.

IS: Russia will be defeated

In the same recording, the IS spokesman Adnani said "Russia will be defeated," and called on Muslims everywhere to launch "jihad" against the Russians and the Americans.

The comments on Tuesday came a day after the head of al-Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra also threatened Moscow, saying its air war would have dire consequences.

Adnani said "Russia will be defeated," calling on Muslims to launch "jihad" against the Russians

In his statement, Adnani said the United States is weak and is using Russia and Assad's other ally Iran to strengthen its position in Syria, claiming Washington is willing "to forge an alliance with the devil".

In contrast, he said "the Islamic State is today stronger than ever".

Russia said earlier on Tuesday its air force had hit 86 "terrorist" targets in Syria in the past 24 hours -- the highest one-day tally since it launched its bombing campaign on September 30.

Among them, it claimed, were several IS targets.

Earlier on Tuesday, two rockets struck the Russian embassy compound in Damascus, sparking panic as several hundred people gathered to express their support for Moscow's air war in Syria.

On Monday, Russian authorities claimed to have foiled a major terrorist plot, allegedly planned by men trained at IS camps in Syria and aimed at Moscow's public transport system.

New US-Russia talks on Syria airstrikes after 'near miss'

Meanwhile, the United States and Russia are to hold new talks Wednesday on avoiding incidents in the skies of Syria.

The US-Russia talks come after the Pentagon said American and Russian planes had come within kilometres of each other on Saturday, making visual contact as the countries wage separate air wars over Syria.

Russia launched air strikes over Syria on September 30, raising fears of accidental run-ins with the US-led coalition that has been bombing the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) in Syria and Iraq for more than a year.

US Defence Secretary Ash Carter said the talks between the US and Russian militaries would aim to ensure Moscow follows "basic safety procedures" over Syria.

"Even as we continue to disagree on Syria policy, we should be able to at least agree on making sure our airmen are as safe as possible," Carter said in Boston after talks with his Australian counterpart.

Russian jets bomb '40 IS targets' in new strikes

Russian jets hit 40 Islamic State targets in new strikes in Syria over the past 24 hours, the defence ministry said on Wednesday.

"From the Hmeimim air base the crews of Su-34, Su-24M and Su-25SM warplanes carried out 41 sorties against 40 targets of the Islamic State's terrorist infrastructure in Aleppo, Idlib, Latakia, Hama and Deir Ezzor," ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies.