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Islamic State leader gunned down by US forces ahead of Biden's Middle East trip

Thursday, July 14th 2022 - 09:25 UTC
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The Islamic State “remains a threat to the United States and its allies in the region,” according to US Col. Joe Buccino The Islamic State “remains a threat to the United States and its allies in the region,” according to US Col. Joe Buccino

Defense authorities from the United States announced the killing of Maher al-Agal, the Islamic State chief in Syria, in a drone operation in which one of the terrorist leader's aides was also wounded.

According to military sources, Maher al-Agal was killed while riding a motorcycle near Jindayris, Syria.

US President Joseph Biden, who is in the Middle East on an official trip, welcomed the news in a statement, saying a key terrorist had been eliminated, which “significantly weakens ISIS's ability to plan, finance and direct its operations in the region.”

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that Maher Al Agal was killed Tuesday by a US drone in an area occupied by Turkey in the province of Aleppo, in northern Syria. Al Agal was targeted along with another person, who was also killed on the spot by a missile from a US drone in the village of Galtan, according to the UK-based Observatory which claims to have wide network of collaborators on the ground.

Al Agal moved in 2020 to the Turkish-occupied region lived under another name pretending to be a member of the Jaysh al Sharkiya faction, a group backed by Ankara, according to the Observatory, which also expplained that Al Agal was a prominent IS leader during the organization's control of the city of Al Raqa, which the jihadist group considered the de facto capital in Syria, and which was recaptured by the Democratic Syrian Forces (DSF), an armed alliance led by Kurdish militias and supported by the US, in 2017.

The new killing comes months after another US operation took the life of former IS “caliph” Abu Ibrahim al Hashimi al Qurashi in northwestern Syria, and shortly before Biden began his Middle East tour to Israel, Palestine and Saudi Arabia.

In 2014, Islamic State rose meteorically in Iraq and Syria and conquered several territories. Despite this, it soon saw its self-proclaimed “caliphate” overthrown by successive offensives in these two countries, in 2017 and 2019 respectively. Since then, the organization has been destabilized on several occasions by the death or capture of its leaders in Syria.

The top IS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was killed in 2019 in a raid by U.S. forces, who also eliminated his successor, Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurachi, in February 2022 during an operation in the jihadist-controlled northwest. Last month, US forces also captured senior ISIS leader Hani Ahmed Al-Kurdi.

Defeated militarily in its former strongholds, the Islamic State “remains a threat to the United States and its allies in the region,” according to US Army Col. Joe Buccino.

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