An airstrike in Syria on Christmas Eve killed a senior Islamic State fighter directly linked to the deadly attack on Paris in November, the Pentagon announced Tuesday.
Charaffe al Mouadan was targeted and killed Dec. 24 in Syria, said Army Col. Steve Warren, the military's top spokesman in Baghdad. He had a direct link to Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the ringleader of the Paris cell of Islamic State fighters who killed 130 people in Paris Nov. 13.
Mouadan was actively planning more attacks against the west, Warren said.
Warren announced that 10 top leaders from the Islamic State, also known as ISIL, have been killed by airstrikes since Dec. 7, including fighters who intended to strike targets in Europe and the United States.
Warren declined to say what type of aircraft was used to kill Mouadan. He did say that many of the ISIL fighters had been struck by missiles from drones.
"As long as ISIL external attack planners are operating, the U.S. military will hunt them and kill them," Warren said.
Another ISIL fighter with ties to the Paris attacks, Abdel Kader Hakim, was killed near Mosul, Iraq, on Dec. 26, Warren said. Hakim was part an ISIL group that helped launch attacks against western targets. A forgery specialist, Hakim's death deprives ISIL of a fighter with many connections in Europe, Warren said.
Among the other ISIL figures killed by airstrikes over the last several weeks was Siful Haque Sujan, a Bangladeshi computer expert educated in the United Kingdom. Sujan helped ISIL hack computer networks, countered surveillance technology aimed at the group and developed weapons. He was killed near Raqqa, Syria, ISIL's self-proclaimed capital.
The targeted killing of top ISIL figures in Raqqa suggests that intelligence gathering by the U.S.-led coalition is growing more robust. Since fall, the coalition has been providing arms and equipment to Syrian Arab fighters north of Raqqa. And in October, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said a team of 50 U.S. special operations troops would be sent to the region to advise those forces.
Warren, on Tuesday, refused to talk about the activity of those special operators.