CENTCOM announced today that “three senior foreign fighters” in the Islamic State were killed in recent weeks. Two of them were reportedly involved in the group’s “external operations” and one of them was a trainer in the “Cubs of the Caliphate” program, which indoctrinates youth. The third jihadist helped oversee the Islamic State’s use of small drones.
The UK Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee has released its investigative report on the Aug. 21, 2015 drone strike that killed UK national Reyaad Khan. The bombing was “the first time outside participation in a military campaign that the UK had conducted a lethal drone strike against a terrorist target.” Khan was one of the Islamic State’s most prolific cyber planners.
The Pakistani Taliban confirmed today that Qari Muhammad Yasin, a senior al Qaeda military commander, was killed along with three of his “companions” in a US drone strike on Mar. 19. The airstrike was carried out in Afghanistan’s eastern Paktika province. Yasin was a member of the Punjabi Taliban, which includes jihadists from various other Pakistani terrorist organizations who are aligned with al Qaeda.
Hay’at Tahrir al Sham (HTS), Ahrar al Sham, and the Free Syrian Army-affiliated Faylaq al Rahman launched a surprise offensive against Bashar al Assad’s regime in Damascus yesterday. HTS, an al Qaeda front group, has been stepping up its attacks in the Syrian capital in recent weeks.
The Islamic State’s Ninawa province has released a video highlighting its use of improvised weapons of war in the battle for Mosul, Iraq. The weapons include: vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs) with armor attached, modified drones, and a remote-controlled rocket launcher. Children or young adolescents used as “martyrdom” bombers are also featured in the propaganda production.
The US killed al Qaeda veteran Abu al Khayr al Masri in a drone strike in Idlib, Syria in late February. Masri was identified as al Qaeda’s “general deputy” in July 2016. He worked to unite Syrian rebel groups under a common banner.
ODNI released some information on counterterrorism raids as part of an effort to provide more transparency on these operations. US intelligence claims that between 2,372 to 2,581 combatants and between 64 to 116 civilians were killed in 473 strikes in areas outside of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria since President Obama took office.
“We remain committed to defeating AQAP and denying it safe haven regardless of its location,” CENTCOM said while announcing three previously undisclosed drone strikes.