American drone strike kills ISIS leader: US Central Command

A drone strike by the American military killed an ISIS leader in eastern Syria on Friday, US Central Command revealed Sunday.

The same three US MQ-9 Reaper drones that were being harassed by Russian aircraft last week were deployed in the attack against Usamah al-Muhajir, a senior leader of the terrorist organization, Central Command said.

"We have made it clear that we remain committed to the defeat of ISIS throughout the region," Gen. Michael Kurilla, a Central Command commander, said in a statement.

"There are no indications that any civilians were killed in this strike and the coalition is assessing reports of a civilian injury," the agency added.

It remains unclear where in Syria Al-Muhajir was killed, and Central Command did not give further details about the mission.

Al-Muhajir's death comes after the US stepped up its strikes against ISIS leaders and operatives, killing and arresting officials who have fled across the Middle East when the terrorist group lost its hold on Syria in 2019.

Although the group has lost much of its power, once controlling a third of Iraq and Syria in 2014, officials say the terrorists remain a significant threat in the region, and US Central Command has said it remains committed to hunting down surviving leaders, many of whom are believed to have planned attacks abroad.

The successful strike comes after the drones were locked in a tense stand-off with Russian fighter jets over Syria in back-to-back incidents last week.

During Thursday's encounter, which happened about 9:30 a.m. local time, Russian aircraft dropped a series of flares in front of the drones "and flew dangerously close, endangering the safety of all aircraft involved," Air Force Lt. Gen. Alex Grynkewich said.

Approximately 24 hours earlier, Russian jets had deployed parachute flares in front of the drones, forcing them into evasive maneuvers, according to Grynkewich.

At one point, a Russian jet cut in front of one of the drones and activated its afterburner, which reduced "the operator's ability to safely operate the aircraft," the officer added.

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