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US strike hits senior Al Qaeda leader in Syria, CENTCOM says

MQ-9 reaper drone (U.S. Air Force Photo/Lt. Col. Leslie Pratt)
September 20, 2021

U.S. forces conducted a counterterrorism strike mission which they say targeted a senior Al Qaeda leader in Idlib, Syria on Monday.

“U.S. forces conducted a kinetic counterterrorism strike near Idlib, Syria, today, on a senior al-Qaeda leader,” U.S. Navy Lt. Josie Lynne Lenny said in a statement released by the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM). “Initial indications are that we struck the individual we were aiming for, and there are no indications of civilian casualties as a result of the strike.”

CENTCOM did not identify the Al Qaeda leader targeted in the strike.

Earlier on Monday, Middle East Eye reporter Levent Kemal, said in a translated tweet, “A drone attack [probably by the United States] was carried out on a vehicle belonging to the Syrian Al-Qaeda Huras al-Din organization in Idlib. Abu Bara Tunisi and Abu Hamza Yemeni and another member of Huras al-Din were killed in the vehicle.”

Middle East Institute (MEI) senior fellow Charles Lister also tweeted, “NEW — U.S. drone strike just hit a vehicle traveling between #Idlib & #Binnish. An MQ-9 had been pictured flying over #Idlib on/off since late last week. That’s the 1st recorded strike since early-2021.”

On Monday, Syrian Defense Forces (SDF) spokesman Farhad Shami tweeted support for the U.S. airstrike. “1- We welcome the air strike in the Idlib region, which targeted al-Qaeda leaders. we remind our partners in the international coalition that hundreds of terrorists and ISIS fighters are operating in the occupied areas of Afrin, Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ain.”

“2-It is important the international community pressure Turkey not to turn the occupied areas into a safe environment for terrorists who pose threat to the world,” Shami added.