The United States Central Command (CENTCOM) confirmed on Monday that a senior leader of the Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist organization in Syria was among three members of the group who were killed in a US helicopter raid in northern Syria.
“Early this morning, US Central Command forces killed Abd-al-Hadi Mahmud al-Haji Ali, a senior ISIS Syria leader and operational planner responsible for planning terror attacks in the Middle East and Europe. This was the ISIS leader who was killed in a previously announced unilateral helicopter raid in northern Syria today. Abd-al-Hadi Mahmud al-Haji Ali was the primary target of the raid,” CENTCOM said in a statement.
“This operation was launched after intelligence revealed an ISIS plot to kidnap officials abroad as leverage for ISIS initiatives,” it added.
“We know ISIS retains the desire to strike beyond the Middle East,” said Col. Joe Buccino, a CENTCOM spokesperson. “This raid deals a significant blow to ISIS operations in the region but does not eliminate ISIS’ capability to conduct operations.”
Earlier this month, US forces killed an ISIS senior leader in a strike in northwest Syria. The leader was identified as Khalid 'Aydd Ahmad Al-Jabouri, who the US army said was responsible for planning attacks in Europe and Turkey, and developing ISIS's leadership network.
In February, an ISIS group leader was killed and four US troops wounded in a US helicopter raid on northeast Syria.
A month earlier, American forces captured two ISIS members during an air and ground assault in eastern Syria.
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.
However, ISIS sleeper calls remain in the area continue to carry out deadly attacks in Syria and Iraq. The US has roughly 900 troops in Syria as part of its effort to defeat ISIS in the region.