In an announcement made on Sunday, the US military revealed that it had carried out a targeted strike resulting in the death of Usamah al-Muhajir, a prominent leader of the Islamic State located in eastern Syria, reported Reuters.
The strike was conducted on Friday using MQ-9 drones, which had earlier encountered interference from Russian aircraft during an incident that stretched nearly two hours, according to a statement from US Central Command.
“The strike on Friday was conducted by the same MQ-9s that had, earlier in the day, been harassed by Russian aircraft in an encounter that had lasted almost two hours,” the statement from US Central Command said, as reported by the Guardian.
The US Air Force released video footage that purportedly captured the encounter between the drones and Russian fighter jets on Wednesday, demonstrating the need for the MQ-9 Reapers to employ evasive manoeuvres. Expressing concern over the incident, the US Air Forces Central issued a statement condemning the actions of the Russian air forces operating in Syria, characterising them as unprofessional and unsafe.
Lt Gen Alex Grynkewich, commander of the Ninth Air Force in the Middle East, recounted that one of the Russian pilots deliberately positioned his aircraft in front of a drone and engaged the SU-35’s afterburner, intentionally impeding the safe operation of the drone by the operator.
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Washington intensifies raids on suspected islamic state operatives in Syria
In an escalated effort, Washington has increased its raids and operations targeting suspected members of the Islamic State (IS) in Syria. The operations have resulted in the killing and apprehension of leaders who had sought refuge in areas under the control of Turkey-backed rebels following the group’s territorial losses in Syria in 2019.
Since the successful campaign that eliminated former IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, known for declaring himself the “caliph of all Muslims,” the United States and its allies have been actively pursuing surviving leaders. Many of these individuals are believed to have been involved in planning attacks abroad.
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During its peak in 2014, the IS controlled a significant portion of Iraq and Syria. Despite being pushed back in both countries, the group’s militants continue to carry out insurgent attacks, underscoring the ongoing challenges posed by their presence.
The US military’s strike against Usamah al-Muhajir, the ISIS leader, is part of its ongoing efforts to counter the threat posed by the extremist group in the region.
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