Al-Nusra Front confirms death of its spokesman

Al-Qaeda's Syrian affiliate confirms Abu Firas al-Suri was killed in an American air strike earlier this week.

Ben Ariel ,

Nusra Front rebels
Nusra Front rebels

Al-Qaeda's Syrian affiliate, Al-Nusra Front, confirmed on Wednesday the death of its spokesman Abu Firas al-Suri in an American air strike earlier this week.

In a statement circulated on Twitter, Al-Nusra Front said Suri and other members "were killed during a Crusader (Western) air strike... on April 3, 2016."

It said the raid had hit a training camp, but did not specify where in Syria.

The confirmation comes several days after the Pentagon said the American military conducted an air raid on an Al-Nusra meeting in northwest Syria. It could not, however, confirm at the time whether Suri had been killed.

Suri was a Syrian national and a "legacy" Al-Qaeda member who fought in Afghanistan in the late 1980s and 1990s, Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said.

He "worked with Osama bin Laden and other founding Al-Qaeda members to train terrorists and conduct attacks globally," Cook said, adding that Sunday's strike killed several enemy fighters.

Suri's death had been reported by the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which said that his son and at least 20 other jihadists were also killed Sunday in strikes on positions in Idlib province.

Meanwhile on Wednesday, the Observatory said that another Al-Nusra member, who appeared in a gruesome video cutting out the heart of a regime soldier and eating it, had been shot dead by rival rebels.

Known by his nom de guerre Abu Sakkar, the rebel reportedly joined the Al-Qaeda affiliate about a year ago.

Rival rebels "assassinated Khaled al-Hamad, who was known as Abu Sakkar and who was a military commander in Nusra, by gunning him down" in the northwestern province of Idlib, the Observatory said.

In May 2013, Abu Sakkar appeared in a video showing him eating the heart of a dead regime soldier, sparking an international outcry and condemnation from the mainstream Syrian opposition.

At the time, he was fighting in a rebel brigade in central Homs province.