U.S. drone strike in Syria kills ISIS leader, injures another


A drone strike killed a senior leader of the Islamic State and injured another on Tuesday in northwest Syria, officials with U.S. Central Command said.

Maher al-Agal, identified by Central Command as the leader of ISIS in Syria, was killed by a drone strike launched at a target outside Jindayris, Syria.

A “senior ISIS official closely associated with Maher” was seriously injured in the attack, according to a Central Command spokesman.

“This strike reaffirms [Central Command’s] steadfast commitment to the region and the enduring defeat of ISIS,” command spokesman Army Col. Joe Buccino said in a statement. “The removal of these ISIS leaders will disrupt the terrorist organization’s ability to further plot and carry out global attacks.”

The strike on al-Agal comes months after the head of the group, Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, killed himself during a raid on his hideout by American special forces. The Pentagon said al-Qurayshi blew himself up along with members of his family as U.S forces closed in.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a private group that monitors the fighting in the decade-long civil war, said al-Agal was a  prominent commander at the height of Islamic State’s power, based in the terror group’s then capital of Raqqa. He was most recently a commander in a Turkish-backed ISIS faction called Jaysh Al-Sharqiyyah.

President Biden said in a statement from the White House that the strike on al-Agal sends a “powerful message” to terrorist networks around the globe and “significantly degrades the ability of ISIS to plan, resource and conduct their operations in the region.”
The U.S. has several hundred military troops in Syria to help Syrian Democratic Forces who are fighting the Islamic State. The Syria conflict is likely to be one major topic of conversation as Mr. Biden travels to both Israel and Saudi Arabia this week for talks with regional leaders.

“This airstrike represents the culmination of determined and meticulous intelligence work and stands as testament to the bravery and skill of our armed forces,” Mr. Biden said in a statement. “It also demonstrates that the United States does not require thousands of troops in combat missions to identify and eliminate threats to our country.”

Separately, The Associated Press reported that the U.N. Security Council approved a resolution Tuesday extending humanitarian aid deliveries to 4.1 million people in Syria‘s rebel-held northwest for just six months, a shorter time frame that bowed to the wishes of Russia in a clash with the U.S. and its allies.

The United States, Britain and France had backed called for a yearlong extension. Instead, as Russia demanded, the six-month extension means a new Security Council resolution will be required early in 2023 on future Syrian aid packages.

Russia, a close ally of the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad, remained adamant that it would only support a six-month extension. It has repeatedly called for stepped up humanitarian aid deliveries to the northwest from within Syria, across conflict lines. This would give Mr. Assad’s government more control and curtail the influence of U.S.-allied Syrian Kurdish forces, the AP reported.

— Joseph Clark contributed to this article, which was based in part on wire service reports.

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