US strike kills ISIS leader in eastern Syria, says Centcom

American military 'assessing reports' of a civilian injury from the operation

US troops patrol oil wells in Syria's north-eastern Hasakah province. AFP
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A US strike killed ISIS senior leader Usamah al Muhajir in eastern Syria, Central Command (Centcom) said on Sunday.

The coalition said it was “assessing reports of a civilian injury” after the operation on Friday, adding there are “no indications” of civilian deaths from the strike.

“We have made it clear that we remain committed to the defeat of ISIS throughout the region,” said Centcom commander Gen Michael Kurilla.

“ISIS remains a threat, not only to the region but well beyond.”

Centcom noted the drone unit that conducted the strike on the ISIS leader had been “harassed” by Russian military aircraft earlier on Friday in an encounter that lasted almost two hours.

Russian aircraft also engaged in “unsafe and unprofessional behaviour” while interacting with US MQ-9 drones over Syria on Thursday, Centcom said.

“Russian aircraft dropped flares in front of the drones and flew dangerously close, endangering the safety of all aircraft involved,” Centcom said.

American troops have been in Syria since 2015 in a mission focused on countering Iran-backed militias and preventing the resurgence of ISIS, in partnership with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.

Despite being defeated in Syria in 2019, the extremist group continues to wage a low-level insurgency across northern Iraq and Syria and often attacks members of the SDF.

Gen Kurilla warned in March, amid some Congressional backlash against the US presence in Syria, that ISIS would return to the war-torn country within two years without American troops.

Updated: July 09, 2023, 1:20 PM