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Joint Syria raid killed ISIS oil official who financed sleeper cells

IRBIL, Iraq — An Islamic State group official who oversaw oil and gas operations and helped finance sleeper cells was killed last week in a joint coalition special operations raid with Syrian partner forces, the military said.

The ISIS official known by the pseudonym Abu al-Ward al-Iraqi was killed along with another militant who officials have not yet identified during the raid in Deir al-Zour province on Jan. 14, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces said in a statement on Sunday.

Al-Iraqi’s death “disrupts and degrades” ISIS’s ability to finance terrorist activities in the Middle Euphrates River Valley along the Iraq-Syria border, said U.S. Army Col. Myles B. Caggins III, a military spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition, via email.

It’s among the latest takedowns of top ISIS leaders since the killing in late October of the group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, but it comes as the future of the coalition’s continued presence in Iraq remains uncertain, which some fear could allow the group to resurge.

In the fallout of a U.S. drone strike that killed Iranian Quds Force commander Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani earlier this month, Iraq’s Shiite-dominated parliament demanded the government expel coalition forces, but acting Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi has since said that would be up to his successor. A new prime minister has not yet been selected.

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