The United States Central Command (CENTCOM) has confirmed that senior Islamic State leader Abd-al-Hadi Mahmud al-Haji Ali was killed early Monday during a helicopter raid on the Syrian village of As Suwayda in the Jarabulus countryside. Two other “armed individuals” were confirmed to have been killed in the operation.
“Extensive planning went into this operation to ensure its successful execution. No U.S. troops were wounded. No U.S. helicopters were damaged. We assess no civilians were killed or injured,” CENTCOM reported.
CENTCOM described al-Haji Ali as a “operational Planner responsible for planning terror attacks in the Middle East and Europe,” adding that the “operation was launched after intelligence revealed an ISIS plot to kidnap officials abroad as leverage for ISIS initiatives.”
Spokesman Col. Joe Buccino stated that “We know ISIS retains the desire to strike beyond the Middle East. This raid deals a significant blow to ISIS operations in the region but does not eliminate ISIS’ capability to conduct operations.”
The area where the raid occurred is normally under control by Turkish-backed Syrian rebel groups of the National Liberation Front. Local sources initially suggested that the operation was against elements of the Turkish-backed Suqour al-Sham Brigades and that two of its fighters were killed. The United States did not outright confirm that the two other combatants killed in the raid were ISIS militants, leaving questions as to whether Suqour al-Sham Brigades was involved.