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Syria: US drone strike kills Islamic State leader

The strike in northwest Syria also wounded a senior leader of the group, says the US military
This picture taken on 24 March 2019 shows a discarded Islamic State flag lying on the ground in the Syrian village of Baghouz, a day after the group's 'caliphate' was declared defeated (AFP)
A discarded Islamic State flag lying on the ground in the Syrian village of Baghouz, a day after the group's 'caliphate' was declared defeated on 24 March 2019 (AFP)

A US drone strike has killed the leader of the Islamic State (IS) group in northwest Syria on Tuesday, said the US military.

The US Central Command said in a statement that Maher al-Agal, who is one of the top five leaders of the militant group, had been killed and a senior IS leader was seriously wounded while riding a motorcycle in  in the town of Jindiris in the northern countryside of Aleppo province.

The Syrian Civil Defence Force said one person was killed and another injured in a strike that targeted a motorcycle outside Aleppo, but did not identify the victims.

The Syrian Civil Defence group, commonly known as the White Helmets, reported that an unidentified drone targeted a motorcycle in the village of Khaltan, near Jindiris, killing two people, but did not identify them.

"Extensive planning went into this operation to ensure its successful execution. An initial review indicates there were no civilian casualties," the Centcom statement said.

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It added that Agal was responsible for developing IS networks outside of Iraq and Syria.

"This strike reaffirms Centcom's steadfast commitment to the region and the enduring defeat of ISIS," said Col. Joe Buccino, a Central Command spokesperson, using an alternative acronym for the Islamic State group.

"The removal of these ISIS leaders will disrupt the terrorist organisation's ability to further plot and carry out global attacks."

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The killing is another blow to the militant group that has been waging insurgent attacks ever since its territorial defeat in the region three years ago.

A US-led coalition has been conducting regular raids and strikes targeting IS members.

Last month, the coalition said it had detained a senior leader of the group in Syria. 

A month earlier, Turkey reportedly captured Abu Hasan al-Hashemi al-Qurashi, the former leader of the group, following a raid in Istanbul.

Qurashi, whose real name is Juma Awad al-Badri, had led the militant group since its previous leader, Abu Ibrahim al-Qurashi, was killed in a US operation in Syria in February.

According to Iraqi security officials, Badri is the brother of the first IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who proclaimed the group's "caliphate" in Mosul in 2014.

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