A senior ISIS leader responsible for planning international terrorist attacks was killed in a U.S. strike on Monday in Syria, dealing another blow to the remnants of the Islamic State.
U.S. Central Command, which oversees Middle East operations, said in a statement that the killing of the commander, Khalid ‘Aydd Ahmad al-Jabouri, will “temporarily disrupt [ISIS’] ability to plot external attacks.”
Describing the operation as a “unilateral strike,” CENTCOM stated that al-Jabouri was a planner for attacks in Europe and Turkey, and had developed the leadership structure for ISIS in Turkey. CENTCOM said the strike did not injure or kill any civilians.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a U.K.-based nonprofit that tracks conflict in Syria, reported that a drone strike killed the commander while he was walking and making a phone call near his house.
The strike came two weeks after U.S. forces in Syria traded deadly strikes with Iranian proxies, raising fears of escalation in the region. The Iran-backed strikes killed an American contractor and gave six U.S. troops traumatic brain injuries, CNN reported.
Retaliatory strikes by the U.S. killed eight militants and targeted facilities used by groups associated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Iran’s internal militia and its main force for operations beyond its borders.
CENTCOM has stated that the U.S. has about 900 troops deployed in Syria, as well as about 170 contractors, Stars and Stripes reported. U.S. forces are stationed in Syria “to keep an ISIS resurgence at bay,” a military spokesman told the Washington Post in December.
CENTCOM Commander Gen. Michael Kurilla told a congressional committee in March that “ISIS would return within one to two years” if the U.S. pulled out of Syria, Stars and Stripes reported. The House of Representatives recently voted down an effort to force the withdrawal of about 900 troops from Syria.
“ISIS continues to represent a threat to the region and beyond,” Kurilla said in a statement. “Though degraded, the group remains able to conduct operations within the region with a desire to strike beyond the Middle East.”