The Pentagon on Tuesday declared that they had killed 10 senior Islamic State operatives in Syria and Iraq this month, including one who had direct links with Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the man who orchestrated the Paris attacks on November 13. US military spokesman Colonel Steve Warren told AFP that French national Charaffe el Mouadan was killed in a US-led coalition strike on December 24. Mouadan was planning further attacks against Western countries, Warren said.

While French sources said there was no evidence to suggest that Mouadan was linked to the Paris attacks, he was close to both Abaaoud and Samy Amimour, a suicide bomber who was at the Bataclan music hall. Mouadan grew up in a house in Paris (pictured above) and was radicalised on the Internet, AFP reported.

US officials said the deaths of all these top leaders would be a big blow to the militant group. "We're striking at the head of this snake," said Warren, but warned that the threat had by no means fully abated. The US has been involved in air strikes in Syria since August 2014 as part of an international coalition that seeks to end ISIS’ domination of Syria and Iraq.