Senior Al-Qaeda leader killed in Syria

Abu Afghan al-Masri, senior Al-Qaeda leader in Syria who previously operated in Afghanistan, killed by American drone strike.

Ben Ariel ,

Al-Qaeda flag
Al-Qaeda flag

A senior Al-Qaeda leader in Syria who previously operated in Afghanistan was killed by an American drone strike, the Defense Department announced Tuesday.

The attack took place on November 18 near Sarmada in northwestern Syria and targeted Abu Afghan al-Masri, Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said.

"He had ties to terrorist groups operating throughout Southwest Asia, including groups responsible for attacking U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan and those plotting to attack the West," Cook said, according to the AFP news agency.

Al-Masri was an Egyptian who originally joined Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and later moved to its Syrian affiliate, he added.

The Pentagon did not immediately provide further information about Masri, only that he had a "senior leadership role" in Al-Qaeda.

"This is someone who helped organize Al-Qaeda activities," Cook said, stressing he "has been on our radar for some time."

A U.S.-led coalition is striking Islamic State (ISIS) group targets in Syria, but has also hit leaders from other groups including the Al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front, which has renamed itself Fatah al-Sham after breaking away from Al-Qaeda.

In October, the Pentagon said an air strike near Idlib had targeted a Nusra senior leader, Ahmed Salama Mabrouk, an Egyptian also known by his nom de guerre Abu Faraj.

Also in October, a United States drone strike in Syria killed Al-Qaeda member Haydar Kirkan, who had ties to Al-Qaeda's senior leaders, including former leader Osama bin Laden.