An ISIS leader linked to the November 13 Paris attacks is one of the 10 leaders killed by U.S. airstrikes over the past few days, according to a U.S. military official stationed in Iraq.
U.S. and coalition airstrikes have launched a major offensive against the top brass of ISIS over the past month, striking many of the strongholds of the group in Syria, resulting in the killing of more than 10 of its leaders. One of those, an insurgent named Charaffe al Mouadan who was in direct contact with Abdel Hamid Abaaoud, the Paris attack cell leader, was also killed in the attack, said U.S. Army Col. Steve Warren.
Charaffe al Mouadan was confirmed to be planning other attacks against the West.
“We’re striking at the head of this snake,” said Warren. “We’ve killed 10 ISIL leadership figures with targeted air strikes, including several external attack planners, some of whom are linked to the Paris attacks.”
“Others had designs on further attacking the West,” added Warren.
This comes as a double blow to the upper echelons of ISIS leadership, which had only days ago conceded the control of the center of Ramadi to the Iraqi army, according to Reuters. The seizure of Ramadi, a city about 70 miles west of Baghdad, was the first major victory for the coalition forces against ISIS since it swept through a third of Iraq in 2014. CNN reports that now the Iraqi army, with the help of U.S. backed troops, hopes to recapture Mosul, which it lost to ISIS last year.
After the victory at Ramadi, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi visited the city as a sign of celebration, before announcing that the coalition force hopes to knock ISIS out of Iraq by the end of 2016.
“Next year will be the year we drive ISIS out of Iraq,” said Haider al-Abadi.
But Iraqi Finance Minister Hoshiyar Zebari added that recapturing Mosul from the grasp of ISIS remains a more difficult proposition. He called on all the players involved in the battle, including the United States and the ethnic Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, to help the cause.
“Mosul needs good planning, preparations, commitment from all the key players.”
Another ISIS leader killed in the U.S.-led offensive was Abdul Qader Hakim, who facilitated ISIS’ external operations and had links to the Paris attack network, according to Army col. Steve Warren. After the Paris attacks that shook much of the Western world in November, the strong offensive launched by the coalition forces has meant that ISIS has continued to lose its top leadership and has had to concede defeat in many of its relative strongholds.
“Part of those successes is attributable to the fact that the organization is losing its leadership,” said Warren.
But although the recent successes against ISIS leadership and the subsequent killing of its leaders should be treated as victories for the coalition forces, the Army Colonel warned that U.S., or any of its allies, cannot get carried away yet.
“We haven’t severed the head of the snake yet, and it’s still got fangs. We have to be clear about that. There’s much more fighting to do.”
In any case, Pentagon hopes the news of important ISIS leaders killed in the U.S. airstrikes will send a strong message to the rest of the militant organization and shows that coalition forces are not going to relent in their offensive against the top leadership of the group.
[Photo by John Moore/Getty Images]