Al-Qaeda confirms death of its deputy leader

Al-Qaeda confirms deputy leader Abu al-Khayr al-Masri was killed in a drone strike in Syria.

Ben Ariel ,

Al-Qaeda flag
Al-Qaeda flag

The Al-Qaeda terrorist group confirmed on Thursday that its deputy leader, Abu al-Khayr al-Masri, was killed in a U.S.-led coalition drone strike in Syria.

The confirmation came in a joint statement issued by the group's Maghreb and Arabian Peninsula branches, according to the Reuters news agency.

Arab media reported on Sunday night that al-Masri had been killed but the report had not been confirmed until Wednesday, when an unnamed American intelligence official said al-Masri was killed by a Hellfire missile fired by a CIA drone near the northwestern Syrian city of Idlib.

The attack took place late on Sunday while al-Masri was riding in a car, according to the official.

The 59-year-old al-Masri, whose real name was Abdullah Muhab Rajab Abdulrahman, was second-in-command to Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, and a member of its shura council, said the official, who was briefed on the attack and spoke on condition of anonymity.

In late January, an American air strike killed another Al-Qaeda leader in northern Syria, Mohammad Habib Boussadoun al-Tunisi.

Al-Tunisi died in the January 17 strike near Idlib, Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said.

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.