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US coalition kills IS leader wanted for murder

December 3, 2018

The leader was responsible for the beheading of a US aid worker in Syria, said a US official. Even as the group suffers military defeat in Iraq and Syria, the UN has warned it still poses a threat to global security.

US warplane
Image: Getty Images/M. Bucher

The US-led coalition against the "Islamic State" (IS) killed a leader of the militant group in Syria, a US official said on Monday.

"Earlier today, coalition air forces conducted precision strikes against a number of IS leaders in southeast Syria," said Brett McGurk, the US envoy for the global coalition against IS. "Those targeted included Abu al-Umarayn."

The US envoy said al-Umarayn was "responsible for the murder of several IS prisoners, including American citizen Peter Kassig," a former US ranger turned humanitarian aid worker.

Kassig was captured in 2013 and beheaded a year later. The militant group circulated a video online showing his severed head. The group is notorious for filming beheadings of aid workers and journalists and publishing the video online.

Read more: With 'Islamic State' in tatters, al-Qaida renews call for jihad

Peter Kassig
Kassig's family described him as a "treasured son"Image: picture-alliance/ROPI

Still a threat

In Syria, the US-backed Syrian Defense Forces (SDF) ousted the militants from its de facto capital, Raqqa, last year. The SDF has managed to retake large swathes of territory IS captured in its blitzkrieg offensive in 2014.

Although the militant group is largely defeated in Iraq and Syria, it maintains an enclave in eastern Syria. A UN report published earlier this year said that IS remains a threat to regional stability as well as global security. The group has up to 30,000 fighters still in Iraq and Syria, the report added.

Last week, the SDF said they had captured "one of the most dangerous terrorists of the Daesh group," referring to IS by its Arabic-language acronym.

Read more: Is the 'Islamic State' making a comeback in Iraq?

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ls/rc (Reuters, AFP, AP)