The Pentagon announced Wednesday that airstrikes over two days near Idlib killed 11 al Qaeda members last week. One of those killed had strong ties to the terrorist group's leader, it added.
The US military on Wednesday announced that two airstrikes in the previous week had killed at least 11 al Qaeda operatives in northwestern Syria.
The raids, which took place on February 3 and 4 near Idlib, first took out a building used as a meeting site for the extremist group, killing 10 operatives, the Pentagon said. The following airstrike killed Abu Hani al-Masri, who was described as an operative who had close ties to previous al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and current leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. Al-Masri also oversaw the group's training grounds in Afghanistan in the 1980s and 1990s.
"(Al-Masri) recruited, indoctrinated, trained and equipped thousands of terrorists who subsequently spread throughout the region and the world," the Pentagon said in a statement.
The US is involved in the Syrian conflict, primarily fighting al Qaeda and its rivals. The Idlib province is mostly occupied by the former Syrian branch of al Qaeda, which has served as an ally to Syrian rebel groups fighting the Syrian government in the ongoing conflict.
"These strikes disrupt al Qaeda's ability to plot and direct external attacks targeting the US and our interests worldwide," said Pentagon spokesman Jeff Davis.
kbd/rc (AFP, AP, dpa)