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DECEMBER 2021

US Central Command Identified Al-Qaeda Leader Killed In Last Drone Strike On Greater Idlib

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US Central Command Identified Al-Qaeda Leader Killed In Last Drone Strike On Greater Idlib

A MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle prepares to land after a mission in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson)

The US Central Command (CENTCOM) has identified the target of the September 20 drone strike on the Syrian region of Greater Idlib as senior al-Qaeda leader Salim Abu-Ahmad.

Maj. John Rigsbee, a spokesman for the CENTCOM, told Military Times that Abu-Ahmad was responsible for planning, funding, and approving trans-regional al-Qaeda attacks.

“There are no indications of civilian casualties as a result of the strike. This strike continues U.S. operations to degrade international terrorist networks and target terrorist leaders who seek to attack the U.S. homeland and its interests and allies abroad,” Rigsbee said, according to a report released by Military Times on October 1.

The drone strike targeted a car on a side road between Idlib city and the town of Binnish. Abu-Ahmad was apparently the man killed inside the car.

This was the first US drone strike to target Syria’s Greater Idlib since President Joe Biden assumed office on January 20. Last year, a series of US drone strikes on Greater Idlib claimed the lives of several senior al-Qaeda leaders.

Abu-Ahmad was not likely a member of al-Qaeda-affiliated Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the de-facto ruler of Greater Idlib. The US does not attack the terrorist group’s leaders despite placing some of them, including the notorious Abu Mohamad al-Julani, on its most wanted list.

Some Syrian observers and opposition activists believe that the US has been in fact targeting HTS’ main opponents within al-Qaeda.

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