Abd al-Jalil al-Muslimi waged jihad in Afghanistan and Yemen, and had “extensive and long-standing ties to numerous al Qaeda external operations planners and terrorists” before he was killed, according tot he US military. Mohammad Habib Boussadoun al-Tunisi was an external operations leader who plotted against the West.
Mahmud Al Isawi was killed as the US-led coalition has stepped up its efforts to help drive the Islamic State from its Syrian capital. The Pentagon said that 16 “significant members” of the organization’s external operations network have been killed in 2016.
The Pentagon is still assessing the results of airstrikes on Jan. 1 and Jan. 3 in northern Syria, but it is believed that 20 al Qaeda “militants” were killed in the bombings. The airstrikes are likely among the most significant carried out against al Qaeda in Syria since Sept. 2014. President Obama reportedly authorized a more robust air campaign against al Qaeda in Syria late last year, after the administration had previously defined down the threat.
The US military has targeted senior and mid-level Islamic State leaders, external operations planners, and military commanders while also striking the group’s military and civilian infrastructure throughout Iraq and Syria in an effort to deny it territory and deal it a “lasting defeat.”
For the time being, Raqqah has become the most significant target in the air campaign in Iraq and Syria. Coalition forces have launched 52 strikes near the Syrian city over the past 5 days, compared to 23 in Mosul.
CJTFOIR has launched 76 strikes in and around Raqqah since Dec. 20. For comparison, the US launched 23 airstrikes against the Islamic State in and around Mosul during the same time period.
Photos have emerged of Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Qods Force, in Aleppo, Syria. Forces allied with the Syrian government declared victory this past week.
Sham al Islam, a group founded by former Moroccan detainees at Guantanamo Bay, has merged with a local Syrian faction in order to “unify the ranks” and to “protect the jihad” in Syria.