Senior ISIS leader killed in Syria air strike

Al-Hakim was said to have deep ties to French and Tunisian militant groups.
Al-Hakim was said to have deep ties to French and Tunisian militant groups.

WASHINGTON • The US-led military coalition has killed a leader of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terror group in Syria, the Pentagon has said.

"Coalition warplanes targeted and killed Tunisian Boubaker al-Hakim, in Raqqa, Syria" on Nov 26, Pentagon spokesman Ben Sakrisson said in a statement e-mailed to Agence France-Presse on Saturday.

"Al-Hakim was an ISIL leader and long-time terrorist with deep ties to French and Tunisian jihadist elements," he added, using another acronym for the ISIS group.

The 33-year-old Al-Hakim was suspected of involvement in extremist attacks against Tunisian political leaders in 2013, Major Sakrisson said. "His removal degrades ISIL's ability to conduct further attacks in the West and denies ISIL a veteran extremist with extensive ties."

Al-Hakim's death also "denies the Islamic State (in Iraq and Syria) a key figure with extensive historical and current involvement in facilitation and external operations and degrades their ability to conduct terror attacks around the world," the statement read.

The official confirmation of Hakim's death comes after it was announced on Dec 2 on the Twitter account of a Syrian group of opponents to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

 

Born in Paris, Al-Hakim first fought for Al-Qaeda in Iraq from 2003 to 2004 before joining ISIS.

He was sentenced to seven years in prison in Paris in 2008 for his part in a drive to send young Islamists from France to Iraq. He was released in early 2011.

His network included Cherif Kouachi, one of two brothers who carried out the attack on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in January 2015 that killed 12 people.

In Syria, a US-backed Arab-Kurdish alliance on Saturday announced "phase two" of its campaign for Raqqa - ISIS' Syrian bastion - as Washington said it was sending 200 more troops to back the offensive.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 12, 2016, with the headline 'Senior ISIS leader killed in Syria air strike'. Print Edition | Subscribe