A leader of the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group, responsible for attacks in Europe, has been killed in an American strike in Syria, the American military command for the Middle East (Centcom) announced on Tuesday.

Khaled Aydd Ahmad al-Jabouri was notably “responsible for planning IS attacks in Europe”, Centcom said in a statement, stressing that his death would “temporarily disrupt the organization’s ability to stage attacks abroad”.

The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for a series of deadly attacks in Europe during its time of power, when it controlled large regions in Syria and Iraq where it had proclaimed a “caliphate” and reigned terror.

He had notably claimed responsibility for the attacks of November 13, 2015 in Paris and its inner suburbs (130 dead), as well as that of Nice, in the south-east of France, on July 14, 2016 (86 dead).

Also in 2016, three suicide attacks in Belgium, particularly in the Brussels region, killed around thirty people in total. The following year, attacks claimed by the IS on August 17 and 18 in Spain, particularly in Barcelona, ​​left 16 people dead.

According to the US military command, the strike was carried out in northwestern Syria and no civilians were killed or injured in the raid.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (OSDH), an American drone targeted the leader of the IS in the province of Idleb, in an area controlled by jihadists in northwestern Syria.

The man, an Iraqi who pretended to be a Syrian and called himself Khaled, had taken refuge in this region ten days ago, specifies the Observatory which has a vast network of sources in Syria.

He was targeted by the drone as he was walking near his home and talking on the phone, adds the OSDH.

His real name is Khalil Abdallah al-Khulaif, according to Damien Ferré, founder of the company Jihad Analytics, which analyzes global and cyber jihad.

“As always, he will be replaced by another? But we must not minimize the event too much because it is another blow to the group,” said Mr. Ferré.

For the boss of the American military command in the Middle East, General Michael Kurilla, “IS continues to pose a threat to the region and beyond”, according to the Centcom press release.

“Even weakened, the group remains capable of carrying out operations in the region, with the desire to strike beyond the Middle East,” he said.

Since the territorial defeat of IS in Syria in 2019, several hundred American soldiers, deployed in the northeast of the country as part of the anti-jihadist coalition, continue to fight with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF, dominated by the Kurds ) and to target suspected ISIS members.

The United States regularly announces that it is targeting IS leaders who have taken refuge in Syria to behead the organization.

In October 2019, they announced the death of IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi during an American operation in northwestern Syria.

His two successors were then killed: one in February 2022, in northwestern Syria, and the other in November of the same year, in the province of Deraa (south).

On February 16, the US military announced that it had killed an important leader of the extremist group in a raid in northeastern Syria, an operation during which four American soldiers were injured.

Despite its territorial defeat, IS continues to carry out attacks in Syria, where the jihadist group recently targeted civilians picking truffles in the desert, killing dozens.

04/04/2023 13:28:07 – Beirut (AFP) – © 2023 AFP