U.S. Drones Take out ISIS Leader in Eastern Syria, Were Harrassed by Russian Jets

AP Photo, File

U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) announced Sunday that they used MQ-9 reaper drones to take out ISIS leader Usamah al-Muhajir in Eastern Syria. No civilian casualties have been reported.


“We have made it clear that we remain committed to the defeat of ISIS throughout the region,” said CENTCOM commander Gen. Michael Kurilla. “ISIS remains a threat, not only to the region but well beyond.”

The CENTCOM press release said that the operation will hurt ISIS’s attempts at further acts of terror:

This will disrupt and degrade ISIS’s ability to plant and conduct terror attacks. However, CENTCOM’s operations against ISIS, alongside partner forces in Iraq and Syria, will continue in order to achieve the group’s enduring defeat.

The release continued, pointing out that the MA-9 drones used had been harassed earlier in the day by Russian aircraft in an almost two-hour encounter.

Lt. Gen. Alexus Grynkewich, commander, 9th AF and CFACC for CENTCOM, explained the harassment:

Russian military aircraft engaged in unsafe and unprofessional behavior Thursday, 9:30 a.m. local time, while interacting with U.S. MQ-9 drones carrying out our D-ISIS mission in Syria.

Russian aircraft dropped flares in front of the drones and flew dangerously close, endangering the safety of all aircraft involved.


Russian jets routinely harass U.S. drones, flying into their path and forcing them to take evasive action to avoid a collision.

In fact, it had already happened earlier that day, said Grynkewich:

This is the second instance of dangerous behaviors by Russian pilots within the past 24 hours, with the first happening Wednesday at approximately 10:40 a.m. local time.

He added: that the Russian pilots were acting unprofessionally and needed to “cease this reckless behavior and adhere to the standards of behavior expected of a professional air force, so we can resume our focus on the enduring defeat of ISIS.”

This Twitter poster claims this is footage of one of the times Russians harassed our aircraft:

The U.S. maintains about 900 troops deployed in Syria who primarily work with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in their struggle against Islamic State militants.

The Jerusalem Post labels Usamah al-Muhajir an “ISIS leader in eastern Syria.” They describe the complicated region:


[Eastern Syria] …is a large area controlled by the SDF, generally consisting of territory east of the Euphrates river. West of the Euphrates the Syrian regime, which is backed by Russia and Iran is in control. Iranian-backed militias patrol areas along the river, from Albukamal to Deir Ezzor. ISIS members have sought refuge in desert areas, either east or west of the Euphrates, sometimes striking at locals, such as murdering people who go out in the desert to forage. In northwestern Syria ISIS also operates under the radar, often using the cover of other extremist groups, such as Hayat Tahrir al-Sham to screen their movements. Turkey invaded parts of northwest Syria beginning in 2016. In 2018 Turkey took over the Kurdish area of Afrin, expelling Kurds and inviting in many Turkish-backed Syrian rebel groups. Extremist groups, such as ISIS and similar extremists, have often infiltrated these areas.

Now there’s one less terrorist we have to worry about.


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