Washington, July 10: The US military has claimed that a drone strike in eastern Syria killed an ISIS leader, reported Al Jazeera. Osama al-Muhajer was killed in the strike on Friday, according to a statement released on Sunday by the US Central Command.

US Central Command (CENTCOM) chief Michael Kurilla said, “We have made it clear that we remained committed to the defeat of ISIS through the region.” He added, “ISIS remains a threat, not only to the region but well beyond.” US Drone Strike Kills Islamic State Group Leader Usamah Al-Muhajir in Syria, Says Defence Department.

CENTCOM also claimed that no civilians were killed in the operation but coalition forces are “asserting reports of a civilian injury.” It also said that the drones used to attack had been harassed by Russian warplanes earlier in the day, as per Al Jazeera.

On Friday’s attack, CENTCOM said that it “was conducted by the same MQ-9s (drones) that had … been harassed by Russian aircraft in an encounter that had lasted almost two hours.”

Russian military aircraft disturbed US drones participating in operations against ISIL in Syria on Thursday for the second time in 24 hours, a US commander reported at the time.

“The planes dropped flares in front of the drones and flew dangerously close, endangering the safety of all aircraft involved,” said Air Force Lieutenant General Alexus Grynkewich, read a report published in Al Jazeera.

Grynkewich has stated that three Russian jets dropped parachute flares in front of US drones on Wednesday, forcing them to evade, and has urged Moscow to “cease this reckless behaviour.” US Reaper drones and Russian aeroplanes engaged in two distinct incidents on Wednesday and Thursday, according to video footage released by the US.

A diplomatic row briefly broke out earlier this year, when the US alleged that Russian jets were to blame for the downing of the USD 30 million Reaper drone, which was packed with sensitive US spying technology and was operating over the Black Sea.

Although Moscow denied that its jets were to blame for the drone that crashed into the water in March, US military video showed Russian planes performing manoeuvres to obstruct the drone’s flight path, according to Al Jazeera.

President Bashar al-Assad’s administration in Syria counts Russia as a crucial ally. Assad has gained back a lot of the ground that was lost in the early phases of the Syrian crisis, which began in 2011 when the regime ruthlessly suppressed pro-democracy protesters, with the help of both Moscow and Iran. The Idlib region in northern Syria, which is controlled by rebels, is one of the remaining strongholds of armed opposition to Assad’s regime. Ukraine Not Ready for NATO Membership, Says US President Joe Biden Amid Russia-Ukraine War.

The United States has roughly 1,000 troops stationed in Syria as part of global efforts to combat ISIL, which was destroyed in Syria in 2019 but still retains hideouts in remote desert regions and still carries out periodic attacks, Al Jazeera reported.