A drone strike carried out by the United States-led coalition in north-western Syria has killed a senior member of the so-called Islamic State group who was in charge of planning attacks in Europe, the US military said.
The man killed on Monday was named as Khalid Aydd Ahmad al-Jabouri.
A US military statement added that his death “will temporarily disrupt the organisation’s ability to plot external attacks”.
Monday’s strike was the latest by the US military to kill a top official with the extremist group that once controlled large parts of Iraq and Syria, where it declared a “caliphate”.
From the areas they once controlled, the extremists planned deadly attacks in Europe that killed scores of people. In recent years, such attacks have decreased because the Islamic State group lost the last sliver of land it controlled in March 2019.
Opposition activists in north-west Syria said the man killed showed up in the area about 10 days ago claiming to be a displaced person from the eastern province of Deir el-Zour, bordering Iraq.
Al-Jabouri is one of Iraq’s biggest tribes that also has a presence in east and north Syria and the man might have said that he is from Deir el-Zour to hide his Iraqi identity as residents of east Syria speak an Arabic dialect similar to the one spoken in Iraq.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war monitor, said on Monday that one person was killed in a drone strike near the rebel-held village of Kefteen.
The Syrian Civil Defence, also known as the White Helmets, said it evacuated the man from the scene of the attack and he later died from his wounds.
The strike was the latest in a series of attacks over recent years targeting al Qaida-linked militants and senior members of the Islamic State group in north-western Syria.
Most of those killed by US strikes in the rebel-held Idlib province were members of al-Qaida offshoot Horas al-Din, which is Arabic for “Guardians of Religion”.
The group includes hard core al-Qaida members who broke away from Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the strongest insurgent group in Idlib province.
In February, a drone strike killed two men, whom local activists initially identified as Horas al-Din members.
The Observatory later said that one of the two killed was a senior member of the Islamic State group that was defeated in Syria in March 2019.
The founder of the Islamic State group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was hunted down by the Americans in a raid in Idlib in October 2019. His successor, Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, was also killed in a US raid in February 2022 in north-west Syria.
In October, Syrian rebels killed the group’s leader, Abu al-Hassan al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, and he has been replaced by Abu al-Hussein al-Husseini al-Qurayshi.
None of the al-Qurayshis are believed to be related. Al-Qurayshi is not their real name but comes from Quraish, the name of the tribe to which Islam’s Prophet Mohammed belonged. IS claims its leaders hail from this tribe and “al-Qurayshi” serves as part of an IS leader’s nom de guerre.