The US carried out a drone strike in northwest Syria on Tuesday that killed Maher al-Agal, the leader of ISIS in Syria, US Central Command said.
A senior ISIS official closely associated with Maher was seriously injured during the strike, Central Command said in a statement. An initial review indicated that there were no civilian casualties.
“The removal of these ISIS leaders will disrupt the terrorist organization’s ability to further plot and carry out attacks,” said Col. Joe Buccino, a spokesman for Central Command.
The strike took place outside of Jindayris in northwest Syria the release said.
“The removal of these ISIS leaders will disrupt the terrorist organization’s ability to further plot and carry out attacks,” Buccino added.
Tuesday’s strike was part of ongoing efforts to combat ISIS as various parts of Syria and Iraq have seen a resurgence of the terrorist group in recent months.
President Joe Biden said the killing “takes a key terrorist off the field and significantly degrades the ability of ISIS to plan, resource, and conduct their operations in the region.”
“Like the U.S. operation in February that eliminated ISIS’s overall leader, it sends a powerful message to all terrorists who threaten our homeland and our interests around the world,” Biden wrote in a statement on Tuesday. “The United States will be relentless in its efforts to bring you to justice.”
He thanked members of the armed forces and said the strike “demonstrates that the United States does not require thousands of troops in combat missions to identify and eliminate threats to our country.”
In June, the US-led combined joint task force fighting ISIS detained a senior ISIS leader in the country.
“Hani Ahmed al-Kurdi, known as Salim, was responsible for coordinating terrorist activities across the region,” the coalition said in a statement. “He was instructing others on making explosive devices, supporting the construction of improvised explosive device facilities, and facilitating attacks on US and partner forces.”
It came several months after ISIS leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi was killed during a US counterterrorism raid in northwest Syria. The operation was the biggest US raid in the country since the 2019 mission that killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Last September, the military targeted a senior al Qaeda leader near Idlib, Syria, according to a statement from Central Command. One month later, the military carried out a drone strike against Abdul Hamid al-Matar, another senior al Qaeda leader, Central Command said.
And in December, the military targeted Musab Kinan, a senior leader of al Qaeda affiliate Hurras al-Din, near Idlib. Central Command opened an investigation into the possibility of civilian casualties from the strike, but the Pentagon was unable to provide updates at the time.
This story has been updated with additional background information and a statement from President Biden.