US-led coalition jets on Dec. 4 took out three senior ISIS leaders, including two involved in planning the Nov. 13, 2015, attacks on Paris. The strike on the ISIS-held city of Raqqa, Syria, killed Salah Gourmat and Sammy Djedou, who helped facilitate the attacks that killed 130 people in multiple locations in Paris. The strike also killed Walid Hamman, a suicide attack planner who helped plan a disrupted terror plot in Belgium, Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said in a statement. The targets were “working together to plot and facilitate attacks against Western targets at the time of the strike,” Cook said. Within the past months, coalition aircraft have killed five external plotters, disrupting the group’s ability to plan attacks outside Iraq and Syria, Cook said.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.