US forces killed 11 al Qaeda operatives in two airstrikes near Idlib, Syria, this month, including a member with links to the late Osama bin Laden and other top leaders of the group, the Pentagon said on Wednesday.
Captain Jeff Davis, a spokesman, said 10 operatives were killed in a single strike on 3 February.
It said a Feb. 4 strike killed Abu Hani al-Masri, who it said oversaw the creation and operation of many al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan in the 1980s and 1990s, where he “recruited, indoctrinated, trained and equipped thousands of terrorists.”
Al-Masri is said to have set up and run al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan during the 1980s and 1990s.
He also had close ties to Ayman al-Zawahiri, who became the leader of al-Qaeda when Bin Laden was killed by US forces in 2011.
“These strikes disrupt al-Qaeda’s ability to plot and direct external attacks targeting the US and our interests worldwide,” said Capt Davis.
Al-Qaeda’s influence in Syria operates largely through an affiliate jihadist group, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, formerly known as al-Nusra Front.
The group announced in mid-2016 that it was no longer affiliated with any external group, prompting speculation that it had cut ties with al-Qaeda, although the latter group was not mentioned by name.
It is thought that the leadership structure of Fateh al-Sham is still intertwined with al-Qaeda.
A US operation against al-Qaeda in Yemen last week – the first military action authorised by new president Donald Trump – resulted in the death of a Navy Seal and up to 16 civilians, including children, according to reports.
Mr Trump’s administration declared the operation a success, saying it had yielded valuable intelligence.
Source: Daily Sun, Dhaka, Bangladesh