NAT SEC

Activists: U.S.-Led Airstrikes Killed 18 Top ISIS Figures

Syrian activists say the leaders killed were instrumental in attacks against the West

Smoke rises after U.S.-led coalition airstrikes in Mosul on May 29. — REUTERS
Sep 25, 2016 at 11:31 AM ET

A group of activists in the northeastern Syrian city of Raqqa, which the Islamic State has declared the capital of its so-called caliphate, claimed the terror group has been incapacitated by a series of airstrikes and operations that took out more than a dozen key figures over the last month, hampering its ability to carry out attacks and inspire followers around the world.

According to a list published on Thursday by an activist group called “Raqqa is being slaughtered silently,” 18 ISIS leaders were killed since August 20, all in airstrikes carried out by the U.S. and its international coalition partners.

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Both activists on the ground and the Pentagon have confirmed reports that Wael Adel al-Fayad was killed this month. Known as Doctor Wael, he was the terror group’s information minister and a member of its supreme leadership council (Shura). The Pentagon said he was killed in an airstrike near Raqqa on September 7.

In addition, the Syrian activists claim coalition airstrikes since August 20 killed:

  • Abu Mohammed al-Hayali, who trained ISIS members to use explosives in operations in Europe and the U.S.
  • Mohamed Ahmed Jassim, known for forging official documents for ISIS fighters to be sent abroad
  • Abu Hareth al-Lami, allegedly responsible for ISIS propaganda in Syria and Iraq
  • Abu Anas Srougi, allegedly in charge of a car bomb factory in Mosul. According to the activists’ report, the number of car bomb attacks dropped after Srougi was eliminated
  • Abu Hussam, said to have been instrumental in guarding the secrecy of communication within ISIS circles

The list doesn’t include ISIS spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, confirmed killed in a U.S. airstrike on August 30.

The alleged deaths follow ISIS’ territorial losses. A July report by IHS Conflict Monitor said that since January last year, the terror group lost about 25 percent of its territory, the BBC reported.

Last week, Iraqi security forces and militias recaptured areas near Mosul, Iraq’s second-biggest city and the most important ISIS stronghold in the country. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford, said on Monday that he expects Iraqi forces to succeed in their effort to regain Mosul “and deliver a sharp blow” to ISIS. Dunford added: “Our job is to actually help the Iraqis generate the forces and the support necessary for operations in Mosul and we’ll be ready for that in October.”