The defense ministry in Iraq said a bombing raid by the U.S. near the city of Mosul had killed a commander by the name of Abu Hajar al-Sufi a top lieutenant of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, reported a major news agency on Friday.
The White House has confirmed that the air raid took place, but Ben Rhodes the deputy national security advisor and brother of David Rhodes the president of CBS News, said the United States was still investigating the reports of the death of al-Sufi.
Rhodes said they want to be careful not to make any declarative statements prior to being certain that someone at that level, who is highly valued by the organization, has been eliminated.
Any time a leader is eliminated from a known terrorist group, it has immediate impact on the group’s ability to continue operating effectively as they had done prior to that.
President Obama was with leaders from Europe and King Abdullah of Jordan discussing military moves aimed at ISIS during the NATO summit. His top aides said NATO would pledge its military assistance but no specifics were released at the time.
The Obama administration conceded that destroying ISIS is something that likely will be put in the hands of the upcoming president.
Rhodes said it could take quite some time to ensure that the threat of ISIS is completely eliminated.
The described goal for Obama of making ISIS a problem that is manageable contrasted quite sharply with that of Joe Biden the Vice President of the United States who promised that the U.S. would follow the terror group to the gates of hell because of their execution of two journalists from the U.S.
Rhodes added that there are different phases that take place. The initial one is degrading the organization by squeezing them and then putting together something that can defeat them.