A US-led airstrike in Syria has killed senior Islamic State leader Tariq bin Tahar al-‘Awni al-Harzi, according to a report released by the Pentagon. It has been confirmed that both al-Harzi and another fighter with him were killed June 16 in Shaddadi when the military joint task force coordinating the operations in Iraq and Syria authorized airstrikes at four locations in Syria that day. The strikes targeted an Islamic State tactical unit and was responsible the destruction of a vehicle and two antenna arrays. There were no reports of any civilian casualties related to the drone strike.
Al-Harzi is believed to have been one of the first foreign fighters to join the Islamic State. The Tunisian Islamic State fighter was suspected of being responsible for moving fighters and weapons from Libya to Syria, as well as coordinating suicide bombing attacks in Iraq. According to Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis, al-Harzi’s death will restrict the Islamic State’s ability to move foreign fighters around the reason. CNN national security commentator Mike Rogers said, “This was a big get. It will be very disruptive to their operation for at least some period of time.”
Al-Harzi played a key logistical role for ISIS, helping fuel the militant organization’s war machine. Treasury officials identified al-Harzi as the Islamic State group’s “amir of suicide bombers,” and designated him a global terrorist. The U.S. Treasury Department imposed economic sanctions on al-Harzi and seven other individuals last September after finding that they were helping foreign fighters joining the Islamic State and the Nusra Front.
Tariq al-Harzi was reportedly freed from Abu Ghraib prison during a raid by ISIS in July 2013. The ISIS leader had been on the U.S. Designated Terrorist List since last year and there was a $3 million reward for information on him issued by the State Department. Al-Harzi’s brother, another Islamic State operative, was killed in a U.S. airstrike in Iraq on June 15. The brother, Ali Awni al-Harzi, was “a person of interest” in the Sept 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.