The United States Central Command (CENTCOM) has claimed responsibility for a drone strike that killed a senior leader of ISIS in the northwestern Syrian region of Greater Idlib on April 3.
In a statement released a day after the attack, the command said that the slain leader, Khalid ‘Aydd Ahmad al-Jabouri, was responsible for planning ISIS attacks into Europe and developed the leadership structure for the terrorist group.
“ISIS continues to represent a threat to the region and beyond,” CENTCOM commander General Michael E. Kurilla said. “Though degraded, the group remains able to conduct operations within the region with a desire to strike beyond the Middle East.”
Syrian news sources reported that an MQ-9 Reaper combat drone targeted al-Jabouri near the town of Killi in the northern Idlib countryside. The remains of an AGM-114 Hellfire laser-guided missile were found at the scene of the strike. Al-Jabouri, who was seriously wounded by the strike, was taken to a hospital in the nearby Bab al-Hawa border crossing. However, he was pronounced dead soon after.
No civilians were killed or injured in the strike. CENTCOM said that the killing of al-Jabouri will temporarily disrupt ISIS ability to plot external attacks.
ISIS maintains a strong influence in Greater Idlib, which is ruled by al-Qaeda-affiliated Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS). U.S. combat drones operate over the region on a nearly daily basis. In the last few years, many senior leaders of ISIS and other terrorist groups were killed in drone strikes there. However, none of the targets were working for or allied with HTS.
Last February, Abu Sarah al-Iraqi, head of ISIS’s States General Administration, was reportedly killed in a U.S. drone strike that targeted a motorcycle near the town of Kah in the northern Idlib countryside.