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US strike kills group of top Al Qaeda leaders in Syria

An MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft performs aerial maneuvers over Creech Air Force Base, NV., June 25, 2015. (Senior Airman Cory D. Payne/U.S. Air Force)
October 27, 2020

U.S. forces in Syria reported they killed a group of senior Al Qaeda leaders in a Thursday strike in Idlib.

U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) spokeswoman Maj. Beth Riordan confirmed the Oct. 22 strike in a statement to American Military News. Riordan did not identify the Al Qaeda leaders killed in the strike.

“U.S. Forces conducted a strike against a group of al-Qaeda in (AQ-S) senior leaders meeting near Idlib, Syria, Oct. 22. AQ-S continues to present a threat to America and our allies,” Riordan said. “The removal of these AQ-S leaders will disrupt the terrorist organization’s ability to further plot and carryout global attacks threatening U.S. citizens, our partners and innocent civilians.”

Riordan added, “AQ-S takes advantage of the instability in northwest Syria to establish and maintain safe havens to coordinate terrorist activities. With our allies and partners, we will continue to target al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations.”

The strike came days before Afghan security forces killed another top Al Qaeda leader in Afghanistan. Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security intelligence (NDS) on Saturday announced Afghan security forces killed Husam Abd-al-Rauf, also known as Abu Muhsin al-Masri.

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Reuters reported Afghanistan’s NDS believed al-Masri was Al Qaeda’s second-in-command.

Chris Miller, the director of the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center, confirmed the successful strike against al-Masri, in a statement provided to American Military News.

“The removal of Al-Qaeda Senior Leader Abu Mushin al-Masri from the battlefield is a major setback to a terrorist organization that is consistently experiencing strategic losses facilitated by the United States and its partners,” Miller said. “America and the National Counterterrorism Center continue to be laser focused on the defeat of Al Qaeda and today’s development highlights the diminishing effectiveness of the terrorist organization.”