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Pentagon Says Air Strikes Killed Top Al-Qaeda Leader, 10 Operatives In Syria


Air strikes near Idlib in Syria last month

Air strikes near Idlib in Syria last month

U.S. air strikes killed 11 Al-Qaeda operatives in Syria this month, including a veteran leader with links to the late Osama bin Laden and other top militant commanders, the Pentagon said on February 8.

Killed in a February 4 strike near Idlib was Abu Hani al-Masri, who had ties to Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda's current leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, and oversaw the creation and operation of many Al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan in the 1980s and 1990s, the Pentagon said.

Masri "recruited, indoctrinated, trained and equipped thousands of terrorists who subsequently spread throughout the region and the world," it said.

He also helped found Egyptian Islamic Jihad, "the first Sunni group to use suicide bombers in their terror attacks," the Pentagon said.

Ten other Al-Qaeda members were killed in an air strike on a building used as a meeting place near Idlib on February 3, it said.

Syria's Idlib province is largely occupied by the Syrian branch of Al-Qaeda, Fateh al-Sham.

"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.

Based on reporting by AFP, dpa, and Reuters
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