The US has claimed that an IS (Islamic State) leader with “direct” links to the alleged mastermind of the Paris attacks has been killed in the airstrikes in Syria.
The terrorist, Charaffe el Mouadan, was a French national who was killed in a US-led coalition air strike on December 24, said Baghdad-based US military spokesman Colonel Steve Warren
According to Warren, Mouadan had been actively plotting further attacks against the West.
“He was a Syrian-based ISIL member with a direct link to Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the Paris attacks cell leader,” Warren said in a video call.
Abaaoud was killed in a major police raid in northern Paris five days after the attacks that left 130 people dead and wounded hundreds more in a series of coordinated suicide attacks and shootings across the French capital.
Reports say that Mouadan had been close to Samy Amimour, one of the suicide bombers that attacked the Bataclan music venue. Mouadan also apparently knew Omar Ismail Mostefai, another one of the attackers.
26-year-old Mouadan is said to be of Moroccan origin but he grew up in the suburbs of Paris.
Mouadan was among 10 the IS leaders killed in Syria and Iraq this month, the Pentagon confirmed.
Among the other leaders killed recently was Abdel Kader Hakim, an “external operations facilitator” who was killed in Mosul in Iraq on December 26.
Warren said Hakim was a veteran fighter and forgery specialist who had links to the Paris attack network.
“His death removes an important facilitator with many connections in Europe,” Warren said.
According to the US, military strikes on IS in Iraq and Syria are helping weaken the jihadist group. Just two days ago IS suffered a major setback as they lost hold of Ramadi in Iraq. The US-led international coalition has been attacking IS in Iraq and Syria since August 2014. But the French forces joined in only after the deadly Paris attacks.
(With inputs from agencies)