US Kills 3 Top IS Leaders in Syria

FILE – An Islamic State flag flies over the customs office of Syria’s Jarablus border gate as seen from the Turkish town of Karkamis, in Gaziantep province, Turkey, Aug. 1, 2015. Three IS leaders were killed in a December 4 airstrike in Raqqa, IS’ de facto capital in Syria, the Pentagon announced Tuesday.

The Pentagon said Tuesday a coalition airstrike killed three key Islamic State leaders in Syria, including two militants who were involved in last year’s terrorist attacks in Paris.

“The three were working together to plot and facilitate attacks against Western targets at the time of the strike,” said Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook.

Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said all three plotters were targeted while riding in a vehicle in Raqqa, Islamic State’s de facto capital in Syria, on December 4.

Two of the militants, Salah Gourmat and Sammy Djedou, were involved in plotting last year’s Paris attacks that killed 130 people, according to Pentagon officials.

Speaking in Italy Tuesday, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter identified the three as close associates to the late IS external operations leader, Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, who was killed in an airstrike earlier this year.

Gourmat was also known for inspiring lone wolf attacks in the West, and Djedou was considered a major recruiter for the terror group who was actively plotting suicide attacks in Western nations, Davis said.

The third killed IS leader, Walid Hamman, is a French national who was convicted in absentia in Belgium for a terror plot that was disrupted in 2015.

IS claimed responsibility for last year’s attacks in Paris during which suicide bombers and gunmen launched a coordinated assault across the French capital, including a concert hall were 90 people were killed.
VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin contributed to this report from the Pentagon.

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    Carla Babb

    Carla is VOA’s Pentagon correspondent covering defense and international security issues. Her datelines include Ukraine, Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Korea.