U.S. led airstrikes in Syria and Iraq have killed 10 high-ranking ISIL members over the last month, including a fighter with “direct” links to the alleged mastermind of the Paris attacks, the Pentagon said Tuesday, Dec. 29.
Army Col. Steve Warren, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition’s military operation against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, said those killed in the raids included “several external attack planners.” Some were linked to the assaults in Paris that killed 130 people in November, and others “had designs on further attacking the West,” he said.
He said one of those killed was Abdul Qader Hakim, who facilitated ISIL’s external operations and had links to the Paris attack network. He was killed in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul on Dec. 26.
A coalition airstrike on Dec. 24 in Syria killed Charaffe al-Mouadan, a Syrian-based ISIL member with a direct link to Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the suspected ringleader of the coordinated bombings and shootings in Paris. Mouadan was planning further attacks against the West, Warren said.
The US military says such strikes are helping to weaken the jihadist group, which captured large parts of Iraq and Syria last year but has recently seen significant setbacks including this week’s loss of Ramadi in Iraq.
“Part of those successes is attributable to the fact that the organization is losing its leadership,” Warren said.
He warned, however, “It’s still got fangs.”
A French source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP there was no immediate evidence showing Mouadan was involved in the Paris attacks.
But the official said Mouadan had been close to Samy Amimour, one of the suicide bombers who attacked the Bataclan music venue.