Syria strike kills three IS operatives, some involved in Paris attacks: Pentagon
A coalition air strike in Syria killed three Islamic State leaders involved in plotting foreign attacks, including two men who helped facilitate last year’s attacks in Paris.world Updated: Dec 13, 2016 23:28 IST
A coalition air strike in Syria killed three Islamic State leaders involved in plotting foreign attacks, including two men who helped facilitate last year’s attacks in Paris, the Pentagon said Tuesday.
“The three were working together to plot and facilitate attacks against Western targets at the time of the strike,” Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said.
They were killed in a December 4 air strike in Raqa, an IS stronghold in Syria.
Cook said two of those killed -- Salah-Eddine Gourmat and Sammy Djedou -- were involved in facilitating the November 13, 2015 Paris attacks, in which 130 people died.
Both of those men were “close associates” of Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, an IS spokesman and an external operations leader who was killed in a coalition air strike in August.
The third person killed was Walid Hamman, who Cook said was a suicide-attack planner who was convicted in absentia in Belgium for a terror plot disrupted in 2015.
All three were part of a network led by Boubaker Al-Hakim, a Tunisian killed in an air strike last month.
Last year’s devastating attacks in Paris saw suicide bombers and gunmen launch a coordinated assault across the French capital, including at the Bataclan, a concert hall where 90 people were killed by three attackers during a rock gig in the culmination of the carnage.
IS claimed the attacks.
In March 2014, a French court sentenced an absent Gourmat, then 24, to four years in prison for charges including trying to conduct jihad in Syria.
He had been arrested with two other men in May 2012 at an airport near Saint-Etienne in central France carrying a revolver, night-vision goggles, camouflage clothing and tactical vests.
They had been trying to fly to Gaziantep in southeast Turkey.
Gourmat and another of the men arrested claimed they were going on a humanitarian trip.
Gourmat had not been kept in custody ahead of his trial and fled France.
The US-led coalition has since 2014 been striking IS targets in Iraq and Syria, pushing the extremist group out of vast areas and forcing it try to cling to two remaining power centers, Mosul in Iraq and Raqa in Syria.