U.S. special operators have taken out 50 of the Islamic State’s top leaders since President Donald Trump took the White House in January.
Data obtained by The Daily Beast shows the number of leaders killed is on a steady decrease, as special operators killed 80 ISIS leaders in the waning months of the Obama administration.
“The pace and the way they have gone about going after these HVT’s [High-value targets] hasn’t changed,” Army Col. Ryan Dillon, spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, said.
“Most of them were killed in the last year of the Obama administration,” Dillon added. “If there was a block chart of Baghdadi and all of his bubbas, we are hitting the fifth- and sixth-string leaders of the organization.”
Although the number of top leaders killed has dropped since the Obama administration, the number of air strikes under Trump has nearly doubled from 440 a month in late 2016 to 800. Trump has given the military additional autonomy to conduct air strikes as it sees fit, in effect dropping the possibility of White House micromanagement that was so prevalent and complained about by Pentagon officials during the Obama administration.
Even “seemingly mundane matters” of national security were subject to “significant White House scrutiny,” according to Hal Brands, a defense official in the Obama administration.
“While it was not unprecedented, it was fairly higher than the norm,” Brands admitted.
Recent strikes have hit ISIS leaders like Abu Asim al-Jazaeri, an operations planner, on May 11, and Turki al-Binali, on May 31. Binali served as chief cleric for ISIS since 2014 and was tasked with recruiting foreign fighters to launch terror attacks in Western countries. He referred to himself as the Grand Mufti.
Jazaeri and Binali were both obliterated in Mayadin, which is a town located in eastern Syria, where numerous ISIS leaders have fled to following the siege on Raqqa.
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