ISIS deputy leader Abu Alaa Afri was killed in a coalition air strike, the Iraqi government said on Wednesday.
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Afri, a former Iraqi physics teacher, replaced the group's leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who reportedly was seriously wounded in a U.S.-led coalition airstrike in western Iraq in March, leaving him incapable of carrying out his day-to-day duties as caliph.
According to the Iraqi government, coalition planes hit a building where Afri and several other senior ISIS members were gathering in the Nineve region of northwestern Iraq.
Little is known about Afri, also known as Haji Iman, a teacher who rose through the ranks of ISIS to become Baghdadi’s right-hand man. Before becoming Baghdadi’s deputy, Afri was a key coordination link between Baghdadi and his inner circle and also his emirs in different provinces across the group’s extensive caliphate in Syria, Iraq and Libya.
While details about Afri’s personality are limited, it is believed that he leans toward reconciliation with rival extremist group al-Qaeda and its Syrian affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra and prefers that ISIS’s leadership structure is composed half of Arabs and half of foreign members of the group.