The UK has officially claimed responsibility for the October 25 drone strike on northeastern Syria which claimed the life of an ISIS commander.
“The crew of a remotely piloted [MQ-9] Reaper, armed with Hellfire missiles, tracked a known terrorist in northern Syria, near the city of Ras al-Ain, and at a safe moment, when the individual was alone in a field, carried out a successful strike,” the UK Ministry of Defense said in a statement released on November 27.
While the UK declined to name the terrorist, Syrian sources said that the drone strike killed Sabahi Ibrahim al-Muslih, also known as “Abu Hamzah al- Shheell”. The terrorist was a cochairman of ISIS Shura Council. He was reportedly preparing to sneak into Turkey.
Al-Muslih was reportedly living at the headquarters of the so-called 20th Division, a faction of the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army that occupies Ras al-Ain.
Three days before the assassination of al-Muslih a US drone strike killed Abdul Hamid al-Matar, a senior commander of al-Qaeda-affiliated Horas al-Din, in the Turkish-occupied town of Suluk in northeastern Syria.
British warplanes and drones operate over northeastern Syria on a regular basis. However, the October 25 drone strike was likely the UK’s first combat action in the region since the collapse of ISIS last stronghold there more than two years ago.