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US defense official says drone strike targeted new ISIS official in charge of media and propaganda

The strike comes weeks after the US confirmed it had killed ISIS' spokesman

Washington CNN  — 

Just weeks after ISIS suffered a major loss when its chief spokesman was taken out in an air attack, the US announced it had killed his close associate in a strike.

The US targeted ISIS leader Wael Adel Salman, aka Abu Muhammed Furqan, in a September 7 airstrike, Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said in a statement issued Friday.

The strike took out one of the very limited number of ISIS leaders who had “direct access” to Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, according to a US official. The US conducted the strike using a drone, hitting him on a motorcycle just outside a house in Raqqa, ISIS’s self-declared capital, the official added.

Cook called Salman one of the “most senior leaders” in ISIS.

“He operated as the minister of Information for the terror organization and was a prominent member of its Senior Shura Council – ISIL’s leadership group,” Cook added, using the government’s preferred acronym for the terror group.

The US has now killed in the last two months two of the “very few” ISIS leaders with direct access to Baghdadi, the official said. Mohammad al-Adnani was killed in Syria in a US airstrike on August 30. He was thought to be in charge of external terror operations.

“Baghdadi’s inner circle was already small, and it’s getting smaller,” the official added. Salman is assessed to have been one of the five most-senior officials in ISIS before he and Adnani were killed.

Cook said Salman was responsible for overseeing the production of “terrorist propaganda videos showing torture and executions.”

An anti-ISIS group, Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently, earlier told CNN’s Hamdi Alkhshali that Salman was killed in a drone strike on September 7 in Raqqa, Syria. The group said Salman was responsible for ISIS propaganda and had been chosen to succeed Adnani.

Cook called Salman “a close associate” of Adnani.

Speaking in the UK last week, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter called Adnani “one of the most lethal leaders within ISIL, who was actively planning to kill our civilians around the world.”

“The removal of ISIL’s senior leaders degrades its ability to retain territory, and its ability to plan, finance and direct attacks inside and outside of the region,” Cook added.