The U.S. military – Pentagon – said on Tuesday in a statement tthat Maher al-Agal , the leader of Islamic State in Syria, one of the top five leaders of the militant group, has been killed in a U.S. air strik in northwest Syria, outside Jindayris, about 35 miles northwest of Aleppo. Maher al-Agal worked “aggressively” on building the group’s networks outside of Iraq and Syria, according to the U.S. military. “Extensive planning went into this operation to ensure its successful execution. An initial review indicates there were no civilian casualties,” the statement added. The U.S. military also said senior ISIS official closely associated with Maher was seriously injured during the strike.
The strike on al-Agal comes months after the head of the group, Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, killed himself during a raid of his hideout by American special forces. “ISIS continues to represent a threat to the U.S. and partners in the region,” CENTCOM spokesman Col. Joe Buccino said in a statement. President Biden praised the development, saying it “represents the culmination of determined and meticulous intelligence work and stands as testament to the bravery and skill of our armed forces.” The strike comes a day ahead of President Biden’s planned visit to the Middle East, where he will visit with Israeli, Palestinian, Saudi and other Arab leaders.