The ISIL leaders killed by the coalition included specialists in military planning and the group's drone programme
ISIL commanders killed on battlefield by coalition airstrikes
Airstrikes in the past two months have killed 11 senior ISIL battlefield commanders in Iraq and Syria, the US-led coalition said.
A statement issued on Tuesday by the Combined Joint Task Force Inherent Resolve said that “the removal of these key terrorists disrupts [ISIL’s] command and control network, unmanned aerial system, or UAS, research and development, as well as funding of their terrorist activities.”
The task force, which was set up by the US Central Command to coordinate military efforts against ISIL, identified those targeted as senior military officers, procurement and research specialists, and officials involved in its drone programme.
ISIL first claimed to be using drones in fighting in January this year – when it announced the formation of the Unmanned Aircraft of the Mujahideen unit - and have used them to drop grenades in northern Iraq. The group has modified drones bought on the internet and smuggled to its workshops in Turkey to bomb opposition forces.
They have been exploited as a propaganda tool by ISIL despite questions over the ability of the drones to deliver a major frontline impact as they are limited in the amount of explosives they are able to carry.
The aim of ISIL engineers was to arm a drone with 20 kgs of explosives – about twenty times the current maximum payload, according to Dubai’s Al Aan network citing information from a seized hard drive discovered in an ISIL headquarters in northern Syria.
Those killed in the airstrikes over the past two months included Abu Walid Al Shami, a weapons developer killed on September 29 in Mayadin, Syria, and two ISIL officials involved in developing the group's drone programme, Abu Taburak, killed on October 7, and Abu Asia, on October 9.
“Eliminating these militant leaders and facilitators, directly responsible for command and control, research and development, and planning, degrades [ISIL’s] ability to conduct attacks on civilian targets in Iraq, Syria, and throughout the region,” the statement said.
It added: “US and Coalition forces will continue to strike [ISIL] leadership in order to disrupt the organisation's ability to plan and attack the US and our interests around the world.”