US says ISIS leader killed in Syria wanted to strike Europe
Stars and Stripes April 4, 2023
A “unilateral strike” by U.S. troops in northwest Syria killed an Islamic State senior leader in charge of planning attacks in Europe and Turkey, U.S. Central Command said in a statement Tuesday.
The person killed in the Monday attack, Khalid ‘Aydd Ahmad al-Jabouri, also was responsible for developing the leadership of the ISIS network in Turkey, the command said.
“ISIS continues to represent a threat to the region and beyond,” CENTCOM head Gen. Michael “Erik” Kurilla said in the statement. “Though degraded, the group remains able to conduct operations within the region with a desire to strike beyond the Middle East.”
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Monday that one person was killed in a drone strike near the rebel-held village of Kefteen. The CENTCOM statement did not mention the means of the attack, but the Associated Press on Tuesday reported that al-Jabouri was killed in a drone strike.
The Syrian Civil Defense, also known as the White Helmets, said it evacuated the man from the scene of the attack and he later succumbed to his wounds, according to the AP report.
No civilians were killed or injured in Monday’s strike, CENTCOM’s statement said.
The strike comes weeks after U.S. military leaders told Congress that force is necessary to prevent an ISIS resurgence.
“ISIS would return within one to two years” if U.S. troops were to leave Syria, Kurilla told the House Armed Services Committee on March 23.
The U.S. has about 900 service members in Syria, part of joint efforts with Kurdish fighters to prevent an ISIS resurgence, according to CENTCOM.
The U.S. also has about 170 contractors in Syria, CENTCOM spokesman Lt. Col. Dave Eastburn said last month.
These forces launched at least 34 operations against ISIS in the first three months of the year, statements by CENTCOM said.
The Islamic State, which took over much of Iraq and Syria in 2014, lost the last territory it held in 2019.
Some 10,000 ISIS fighters remain in detention camps in northeast Syria, State and Pentagon officials have said.
Attacks on these camps to break fighters out included one raid in 2021 that left 425 ISIS militants and 121 Kurdish fighters killed, CENTCOM said last year.
Other U.S. military operations in recent years have resulted in the killings of ISIS leaders.
In October last year, the leader of ISIS, Abu al-Hassan al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, was killed in battle with Syrian rebels in southern Syria.
His predecessor, Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, was killed in a U.S. raid in northwest Syria earlier that year. ISIS founder Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was by U.S. forces in a raid in October 2019.