US strike kills senior Islamic State leader in Syria

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WASHINGTON – A senior Islamic State (IS) figure responsible for planning attacks in Turkey and Europe was killed in a US drone strike in Syria, the US military said on Tuesday.

US Central Command (CENTCOM) said the death of Khalid ‘Aydd Ahmad al-Jabouri would temporarily disrupt the group’s ability to plot external attacks. No civilians were killed or injured in Monday’s unilateral strike, CENTCOM said in a news release.

“ISIS remains a threat to the region and beyond,” CENTCOM commander General Michael “Erik” Kurilla said in a statement. “Although degraded, the group is still able to conduct operations within the region as it seeks to strike outside the Middle East.”

About 900 US troops are stationed in northern and eastern Syria to help prevent a resurgence of IS, which overran parts of Syria and Iraq in 2014 and established its so-called caliphate with Raqqa as its capital. IS lost the last of its Syrian territory in March 2019, but sleeper cells remain active in both countries.

US forces in Syria are advising and assisting the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which killed two IS suicide bombers in northeastern Syria’s Hasakah on Sunday. The SDF ambushed the would-be bombers before they could detonate their explosives, CENTCOM said in a tweet.

The US military said in January that its forces captured two IS members during a joint air and ground attack in eastern Syria. Bilal al-Sudani, formerly a senior IS leader with al-Shabaab, was also killed that month during a US special operations raid in northern Somalia.

The terrorist group announced in November that its leader Abu Hasan al-Hashimi al-Qurashi had been killed in the battle, making him the third IS leader to be killed since Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi died during a raid led by US on its compound in northwest Syria in October. 2019. Baghdadi’s successor, Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi was killed during an overnight raid by US special forces outside the town of Atmeh in northwestern Syria in February 2022.

Three years after the collapse of IS’s self-declared caliphate, thousands of men, women and children with perceived ties to the terrorist group are languishing in detention and displacement centers scattered across northeastern Syria. About 10,000 people from more than 60 countries outside Syria and Iraq are in the custody of the SDF, which has warned it does not have the resources to continue holding them.

US military officials have warned that IS could re-establish itself if foreign governments do not take responsibility for their citizens suspected of joining the group. Last week, Norway returned two women and three children from the camps in northeastern Syria.

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