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France

French jihadist close to Paris mastermind killed in Syria

media A pair of U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles fly over northern Iraq after conducting airstrikes in Syria Reuters/U.S. Air Force

The US claims it killed 10 Islamic State commanders in coalition airstrikes in Syria this past month, including one leader who had direct links to the mastermind of the Paris attacks.

Among the ten Islamic State chiefs killed is Charaffe al-Moudan. The US military says he was in direct contact with Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the suspected leader of the November 13 attacks in which 130 people lost their lives.

Born in 1989 in the north-east Parisian suburb of Bondy, al-Moudan grew up in a large family of 8 kids. The son of Moroccan parents, he became radicalized online with two friends, one of whom carried out the suicide bomb attacks at the Bataclan concert hall.

The three men were arrested back in 2012, when they were caught fleeing to Yemen to train in a training camp. They were charged and later freed under supervision.

A year later, they managed to reach Syria, this time undetected. Al-Moudan then changed his identity, adopting the new alias of Aba Soulaymane as he became known in the ranks of the Islamic State organization.

In a few months, he quickly became a leading figure within IS, posting photos of himself on social media.

However, he was not perceived as a big fish per se according to radical experts, which suggests that his death may not be such a big catch after all, as American authorities claim.

Nonetheless, the US Defence department at the Pentagon insists that the "organization is losing its leadership."

Army Colonel Steve Warren, the top spokesman for the US-led coalition in Syria said on Tuesday "we haven't severed the head of the snake yet, the fangs are still there," saying nonetheless the raids were an important step in the fight against Islamic State.

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