The US-led coalition fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria said it killed two senior leaders who oversaw weapons research and drone operations for the terror group in airstrikes on Monday.
Abu Anas al-Shami, an ISIS weapons research leader who headed up efforts to procure explosives for the group as well as plans to use bombs in external terror attack plots, was killed in a coalition airstrike as he rode a motorcycle near Mayadin, Syria, coalition spokesman Col. Ryan Dillon told reporters at the Pentagon Thursday.
“He also oversaw the building of improvised explosives to rig corpses, vehicles and buildings to try and help ISIS cling to strongholds they are losing in Iraq and Syria,” Dillon said.
A separate airstrike in the same region killed Junaid ur Rehman, a senior ISIS drone pilot and engineer who was working to enhance ISIS’s ability to weaponize drones and conduct aerial surveillance in Iraq and Syria as well as to plot external terror attacks.
Coalition officials have long voiced concern over ISIS’s interest in employing drone technology on the battlefield.
“We are destroying their launch points, we are killing their engineers, we are dismantling their manufacturing facilities and their users,” Dillon told reporters. “We are ripping apart their ability to use drones and to further get better” at perfecting their drone technology.
The strikes follow an announcement last month that coalition airstrikes had killed 12 senior ISIS leaders, many of whom were involved in planning attacks against western targets, or facilitating the movement of foreign fighters into Iraq and Syria.
All of these recent strikes against ISIS targets have mostly been located along the Middle Euphrates River Valley in Syria, where many of the group’s senior leaders have moved to since military operations against their former stronghold in Raqqa began earlier this year.