The head of the Islamic State in Syria was killed in a US drone strike, according to the Pentagon.

Maher al-Agal, one of the top five leaders of the jihadist group, died on Tuesday outside the city of Jindaris in northwest Syria near the Turkish border, the US central command said.

An unidentified senior IS official, who was a close associate of his, was seriously injured.

The US Department of Defense said there were no civilian casualties, although it could not be confirmed immediately.

Al-Agal was responsible for the “aggressive” development of IS networks outside of Iraq and Syria, the US central command said, adding that “extensive planning” went to the drone attack for ” ensure its correct execution “.

Al-Agal was previously a major IS commander when the group controlled Raqqa in Syria, according to War Monitor, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Since then, in 2020 it has moved further north, to Afrin, under the Turkish-backed factions.

He was most recently commander of a Turkish-backed faction called Jaysh Al-Sharqiyyah.

The US central command said violent extremist organizations “continue to pose a threat to America and our allies.”

He added: “Al Qaeda-affiliated groups have used the rebel-controlled enclave in northwestern Syria as a safe haven.”

The attack on al-Agal comes months after Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, the head of the Islamic State, was killed during a raid on his hideout by US forces. He blew himself up along with his family members.

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Last month, a US drone strike also killed a senior leader of the Horas al-Din group, Abu Hamzah al Yemeni.

At the height of its power, the Islamic state rebel group controlled more than 40,000 square miles from Syria to Iraq, ruling over eight million people.

Although its territorial state collapsed in 2019, leaders used guerilla tactics to “efficiently restructure themselves at the organizational level,” said the Washington-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace think tank.

US forces have also targeted al Qaeda-linked militants over the years.

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