Drone strikes by the United States-led international coalition have killed a commander reportedly belonging to Al-Qaeda in the north-west Syrian province of Idlib.
After initially telling the AFP news agency that it had not conducted any strikes on Idlib, the US Central Command (CENTCOM) then acknowledged that it had killed an Al-Qaeda official in the province.
In a statement yesterday, CENTCOM spokeswoman Lieutenant Josie Lynne Lenny said: “US forces conducted a kinetic counter-terrorism strike near Idlib, Syria, today, on a senior al-Qaeda leader.”
“Initial indications are that we struck the individual we were aiming for, and there are no indications of civilian casualties as a result of the strike.”
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), the strikes hit a vehicle driving along the road from Idlib city to Binnish further north. The confirmed Al-Qaeda commander killed was reportedly Tunisian, while the other man killed was from Saudi Arabia or Yemen and was not confirmed to be a part of any organisation.
In the complex network of opposition militia groups in Idlib and other areas of north-west Syria, some groups are reported to be affiliated with Al-Qaeda and to have some of the organisation’s members amongst them.
The group currently dominating Idlib, however, is Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS), which is a breakaway militia that has been suppressing and constricting the abilities of those groups still affiliated with Al-Qaeda.