NEW YORK — Coalition airstrikes have killed 10 leaders of in the Islamic State group, including several linked to the attacks in Paris last month, a coalition spokesman said Tuesday.
“Over the past month, we’ve killed 10 ISIL leadership figures with targeted airstrikes, including several external attack planners, some of whom are linked to the Paris attacks,” said the spokesman, US Army Col. Steve Warren, using an acronym for the Islamic State group.
“We will continue to hunt ISIL leaders who are working to recruit, plan and inspire attacks against the United States and our allies.”
Warren shared few details on the strikes touted Tuesday, but said many are carried out by Predator or other unmanned aerial vehicles and the continued airstrikes on Islamic State leadership have facilitated a series of gains on the ground in recent months. Together, the coalition has been building "a smothering pressure" on the Islamic State group, Warren said.
"Any organization that sees its upper and middle management degraded this way is going to lose some of their synergy, and it’s difficult to be able to conduct command and control without leaders to facilitate their activities," Warren said. “We have seen some of that on the battlefield, a string of successes begin to pile up.”
As of Dec. 28, the US and its coalition partners have conducted 9,220 airstrikes — 6,082 in Iraq and 3,138 in Syria, according to the Pentagon. The US leads the coalition with 7,143 strikes in both countries.
One of the 10 men killed was Charaffe al Mouadan, a Syrian-based ISIL member with a direct link to Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the Paris attack cell leader, according to Warren. Al Mouadan, killed Dec. 24 in Syria, was allegedly planning further attacks against the West.
Abdul Kader Hakim, an Islamic State “external operations facilitator,” was killed in Mosul on Dec. 26. Warren described Hakim as 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.
Though the men targeted and killed in the strikes appear to be mid-level operatives, several were charged with "external operations," and one, a Syria-based Bangladeshi, Siful Haque Sujan, killed near Raqqah, Syria, supported the group’s "hacking efforts, anti-surveillance technology and weapons development."
"We are striking at the head of this snake, but it’s still got fangs, and we have to be clear about that. There’s much more fighting to do," Warren said.