ISIS
ISIS Reuters

US forces killed two top Islamic State (ISIS) leaders in an air strike in northern Syria on Thursday, two defense officials told CNN.

The air strike came just hours after a US raid killed an ISIS smuggler.

The latest strike killed Abu ‘Ala, one of the top five ISIS leaders and the deputy leader of ISIS in Syria, as well as Abu Mu’Ad al-Qahtani, an ISIS official responsible for prisoner affairs, the officials said. The strike was conducted at 6:23 p.m. local time in Syria.

No US forces were injured or killed during the operation, and there was no damage or loss to US equipment because of the strike.

US Central Command forces in the region spent more than 1,000 hours collecting intelligence on the targets to limit the risk of collateral damage, the officials said, and according to an initial assessment, no civilians were killed or wounded, the officials told CNN.

The air strike comes after the US military conducted a separate raid in northeast Syria that killed an ISIS weapons smuggler.

"Centcom forces conducted a raid in northeast Syria targeting a senior ISIS official," spokesman Colonel Joe Buccino said in an emailed statement to AFP.

Centcom later said on Twitter that the raid had targeted "Rakkan Wahid al-Shammari, an ISIS official known to facilitate the smuggling of weapons and fighters".

Shammari "was killed and one of his associates was wounded," it said, adding that two others were detained and that the raid did not result in further casualties.

ISIS overran large swathes of Syria and neighboring Iraq in 2014, proclaiming a "caliphate" in land it controlled.

Several military offensives, including those backed by the US-led international coalition, have since seen ISIS lose most areas it once controlled, including the loss of their de facto capital in Raqqa, Syria.

Despite losing the physical caliphate, thousands of ISIS fighters remain in Iraq and Syria, and the group continues to carry out terrorist attacks.

In July, the Pentagon said it killed Syria's top ISIS jihadist, Maher al-Agal, in a drone strike in the northern part of the country.

In February, US President Joe Biden announced that ISIS leader Abu Ibrahim Al-Hashemi Al-Quraishi died in a US special forces raid in northern Syria, when he detonated a bomb that killed him and family members.

In 2019, the ISIS terrorist organization's first leader and founder, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was killed in another US raid.