Early Tuesday morning the US military reported that a leader ranking among the top five of the Islamic State in Syria, was killed in a US drone strike.
U.S. Central Command said in a statement that Maher al-Agal was confirmed killed and a close associate of his was severely injured in the drone strike in the northwest of Syria.
The statement read in part, “Maher al-Agal, one of the top five ISIS leaders and the leader of ISIS in Syria, was killed in the strike. Extensive planning went into this operation to ensure its successful execution. An initial review indicates there were no civilian casualties.” The statement also explained that al-Agal did extensive work to develop networks for ISIS outside of Syria and Iraq.
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This devastating loss to the militant group comes as they try desperately to regroup after losing large areas of ground to anti-ISIS forces.
Many analysts say that in spite of the disruption these loses cause, that many local ISIS fighters who appear to have abandoned their jihad, might have actually just disappeared back into their day-to-day lives, ready and willing to rejoin the fight when called upon.
There are currently approximately 900 US personnel in Syria supporting the mostly Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces battling Islamic State extremists. The eastern territories in which most of these troops operate is the epicenter of a decade long civil war.
CENTCOM spokesperson, Col. Joe Buccino said, “This drone strike reaffirms CENTCOM’s steadfast commitment to the region and the enduring defeat of ISIS. The removal of these ISIS leaders will disrupt the terrorist organization’s ability to further plot and carry out global attacks.”
Buccino went on to say, “ISIS continues to represent a threat to the U.S. and partners in the region. CENTCOM maintains a sufficient and sustainable presence in the region and will continue to counter threats against regional security.”