Iraqi forces have captured Islamic State finance chief Ismail al-Najjar, who has been accused of profiting from the sale of Iraqi oil for over a year.
Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi described Najjar as a “gigantic fish” who had been closely associated with the terror group and the sophisticated oil smuggling network, the BBC reported.
The man, who was among Daesh’s most senior leaders, was captured in the south of Mosul, during a raid by elite forces as part of a major operation to retake the western part of the city.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi speaking at the venue of the 2018 World Economic Forum meeting in Thessaloniki on May 18. Justin Tallis / AFP – Getty Images
Iraqi security sources told the BBC that Najjar’s predecessor, Abu Muthanna al-Kuwaiti, was killed by security forces in August.
Thousands of troops, backed by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes, have launched an operation to retake the western part of Mosul, where hundreds of thousands of civilians live.
The operation began on Monday and is expected to last more than a week.
Iraqi officials estimate that the militants are still holding 1,500 men, who are mostly civilians.
Iraqi forces have retaken the city of Hawija, east of Mosul, as part of the overall campaign.