US military kills IS leader planning Europe attacks in Syria

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Khalid Aydd Ahmad al-Jabouri, responsible for planning attacks in Europe for the jihadist group Islamic State (IS), was killed in a US military strike in Syria, according to US Central Command. While pro-opposition outlets identified the victim as Khalid Abdullah al-Khulaif, who had likely been a senior jihadist from Deir al-Zour, a man killed in a drone strike in north-western Syria was also reported. No civilians were harmed during the strike. The death of al-Jabouri would temporarily disrupt IS’s ability to plan external attacks, according to US Central Command. No specific attacks or thwarted attacks were mentioned.

“[IS] continues to represent a threat to the region and beyond,” its commander, Gen Michael Kurilla, said. “Though degraded, the group remains able to conduct operations within the region with a desire to strike beyond the Middle East.”

The US-led multinational coalition against IS has carried out a series of strikes in northern Syria in recent months targeting senior members of IS and Hurras al-Din, which is believed to be al-Qaeda’s Syria branch.

IS once held 88,000 sq km (34,000 sq miles) of territory stretching from western Syria to eastern Iraq and imposed its brutal rule on almost eight million people.

It was driven from its last piece of territory in 2019, but the UN warned last month that the threat posed by the group and its affiliates was high and increased in particular in conflict zones and neighboring countries.

IS is estimated to have 5,000 to 7,000 members and supporters spread between Iraq and Syria, roughly half of whom are fighters.

The fighters are based mostly in rural areas and continue to carry out hit-and-run attacks, ambushes and roadside bombings.

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