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U.S. Says it Killed Veteran Al Qaeda Leader in Syria

by AFP

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Pentagon claims recruiter Abu Hani al-Masri was among 11 militants killed in airstrikes last week.

The U.S. military said on Wednesday that it had killed 11 Al Qaeda operatives, including a veteran leader and suicide bombing pioneer, in a bombing raid in Syria.

The Pentagon said Abu Hani al-Masri, the Qaeda veteran, was one of those killed in the precision airstrikes near Idlib carried out on Feb. 3-4.

Al-Masri was an early official in Al Qaeda, overseeing the group’s training camps in Afghanistan in the 1980s and 1990s as he worked with Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden and current leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. There “he recruited, indoctrinated, trained and equipped thousands of terrorists who subsequently spread throughout the region and the world,” the Pentagon said in a statement. They said he also helped found Egyptian Islamic Jihad “the first Sunni group to use suicide bombers in their terror attacks.”

“These strikes disrupt Al Qaeda’s ability to plot and direct external attacks targeting the U.S. and our interests worldwide,” said Pentagon spokesman Jeff Davis. The U.S. has mostly focused its attacks in Syria on the Islamic State group. But in recent months, U.S. forces have also launched several attacks against its Al Qaeda rivals.

Idlib province is largely occupied by the former Syrian branch of Al Qaeda, Fateh al-Sham, which has been allied to several Syrian rebel groups fighting the government.

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