Air strike kills ISIS leader in Syria: Pentagon

Air strike kills ISIS leader in Syria: Pentagon

WASHINGTON - A senior Islamic State leader who coordinated suicide bombings and recruited funds and fighters for the jihadists has been killed in a coalition air strike in Syria, the Pentagon said Thursday.

Tariq bin Tahar al-Awni al-Harzi was killed in the northern city of Shaddadi on June 16, Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis said in a statement.

His brother Ali, an IS recruiter and person of interest in the 2012 Benghazi attack, was killed by an air strike in Iraq a day earlier.

Washington had put a US$3 million (S$4 million) bounty on the head of Harzi, a 33-year-old Tunisian, and described him in the past as the IS group's "emir of suicide bombers." As of late 2013, Harzi was a key figure in suicide and car bombings in Iraq, the US says.

The Pentagon said his killing was a significant blow to the Islamic State group.

"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, using an alternative acronym for the group.

The Pentagon said Harzi was also "responsible for moving people and material into Syria and Iraq" and also raised funds to recruit fighters and facilitate travel.

In addition, he supported the Islamic State group by procuring and shipping weapons from Libya to Syria, where the militants have taken large swathes of territory.

He also worked to help raise funds from Gulf-based donors for the Islamic State group, the United States says, including about US$2 million from a Qatar-based facilitator.

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