December 29, 2015
The U.S. military says an Islamic State (IS) leader with direct links to the alleged ringleader of last month’s terrorist attacks in Paris was killed in a coalition airstrike in Syria.
A coalition spokesman, Colonel Steve Warren, said in a news briefing Tuesday that Charaffe al-Mouadan was killed last week on December 24.
He said Mouadan had ties to Abdelhamid Abaaoud, believed to be the leader of the cell that coordinated the Paris attacks, which left at least 130 people dead. Abaaoud was killed in a police raid a few days after the on November 13 Paris attacks.
Warren said Mouadan was «actively planning additional attacks against the West,» but did not specify if he was targeting the U.S. or Europe or both.
Warren noted that Mouadan was among a total of 10 Islamic State «leadership figures» who have been killed in coalition airstrikes in the past month.
They include another IS figure who had «links» to the Paris terror network and a Bangladeshi man educated in Britain who was allegedly a hacker for Islamic State.
«As long as ISIL (IS) external attack planners are operating, the U.S. military will hunt them and kill them,» he said.
In another development in Syria, a U.S.-backed alliance of Kurdish and Arab rebels seized a key dam on the Euphrates River from Islamic State fighters, Warren confirmed. He said the Syrian Democratic Forces ((SDF)) captured the Tishreen Dam late Saturday after intense clashes with IS.
The dam, held by Islamic State since last year, helps generate electricity for large parts of northern Aleppo province. Aleppo is part of a key IS logistics route.
Meanwhile, the United States said the recent killing of a top Syrian rebel leader complicates efforts to bring a cease-fire and political resolution to the country’s nearly five-year conflict.
Zahran Alloush, the head of a group called Jaysh al Islam, died in an airstrike Friday that was claimed by Syrian government forces.
On Monday, U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the United States has some concerns about Jaysh al Islam’s actions in Syria, but that it participated in a conference of rebel groups, supported a political process and fought against the Islamic State group.
“I think we would agree that it doesn’t send the most constructive message to carry out a strike like that,” Toner said. “And as I said, it complicates those efforts. It is our hope that these strikes don’t reverse any progress that we’ve made.”
VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin contributed to this report