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U.S. Drone Strike Kills ISIS Leader in Syria

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A masked Islamic State soldier poses holding the ISIS flag in 2015. | Image by History/Universal Images Group, Getty Images

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The head of the Islamic State in Syria (ISIS), Maher al-Agal, was killed in an American drone strike, the U.S. military reported on Tuesday.

According to a statement from U.S. Central Command, al-Agal was killed in an attack outside of Jindayris in northwest Syria.


A senior ISIS leader directly connected to Maher was gravely hurt during the attack. There were no civilian injuries, according to a preliminary investigation.

“Extensive planning went into this operation to ensure its successful execution,” the statement said.

Maher al-Agal was in charge of establishing ISIS networks outside Syria and Iraq, U.S. Central Command said.

“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.

Although U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration has yet to provide specifics on its long-term strategy for the eight-year-old mission, the United States now maintains about 900 troops in Syria, mainly in the east of the country that has been torn apart by a decade-long civil war.

Biden said in a statement, “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. The United States will be relentless in its efforts to bring you to justice.”

According to the Syrian Civil Defense, a humanitarian organization working in opposition-held regions, two individuals were killed after an unidentified drone struck a motorcycle in the village of Khaltan in the northern countryside of the Aleppo province.

At the peak of its power between 2014 and 2017, ISIS reigned over millions of people and claimed responsibility for terror attacks in dozens of places around the globe.

In 2014, the group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, declared a caliphate over a fourth of Iraq and Syria. As the organization began to disintegrate in 2019, he was killed in an operation by American special forces in northwest Syria.

Although exact numbers are not known, the U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS claimed in mid-2019 that the organization still had 14,000 to 18,000 members, including 3,000 foreigners.

Buccino said that ISIS continues to be a threat to the U.S. and its allies in the region.

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