US says it killed veteran Qaeda leader in Syria

In recent months, US forces have launched several attacks against al-Qaeda


Afp February 09, 2017
PHOTO: AFP

The US military said Wednesday that it had killed eleven Al-Qaeda operatives, including a veteran leader and suicide bombing pioneer, in a bombing raid in Syria.

The Pentagon said Abu Hani al-Masri, the Qaeda veteran, was one of those killed in the precision airstrikes near Idlib carried out on February 3-4.

Al-Masri was an early official in al-Qaeda, overseeing the group's training camps in Afghanistan in the 1980s and 1990s as he worked with Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden and current leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.

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There "he recruited, indoctrinated, trained and equipped thousands of terrorists who subsequently spread throughout the region and the world," the Pentagon said in a statement.

They said he also helped found Egyptian Islamic Jihad "the first Sunni group to use suicide bombers in their terror attacks."

"These strikes disrupt al-Qaeda's ability to plot and direct external attacks targeting the US and our interests worldwide," said Pentagon spokesman Jeff Davis.

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The US has mostly focused its attacks in Syria on the Islamic State group. But in recent months, US forces have also launched several attacks against its al-Qaeda rivals.

Idlib province is largely occupied by the former Syrian branch of al-Qaeda, Fateh al-Sham, which has been allied to several Syrian rebel groups fighting the government.

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