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Al-Qaeda confirms death of senior Syrian figure

Abu Firas al-Suri was a senior member of al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate the Nusra Front’s policy-making Shura Council

Published: Updated:

Al-Qaeda’s North African branch has confirmed the death of a prominent leader of the network’s Syrian affiliate, Abu Firas al-Suri, in a US air strike in Syria on Sunday.

A statement by al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb’s (AQIM) media wing posted online late on Tuesday paid tribute to Abu Firas and said a US air raid killed him. The statement, dated April 4, appeared to be the first public confirmation by al Qaeda.

US officials told Reuters on Monday the United States carried out an air strike that killed Abu Firas. He was a senior member of al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate the Nusra Front’s policy-making Shura Council.

A Pentagon spokesman said a US air strike on Sunday hit a meeting of high-level al-Qaeda officials in northwest Syria at which Abu Firas was present, and said the United States was still confirming whether Abu Firas had been killed.

Suri was a Syrian national and a "legacy" al-Qaeda member who fought in Afghanistan in the late 1980s and 1990s, Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said.

He "worked with Osama bin Laden and other founding al-Qaeda members to train terrorists and conduct attacks globally," Cook said, adding that Sunday's strike killed several enemy fighters.

Suri's death had been reported by the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which said that his son and at least 20 other militants were also killed Sunday in strikes on positions in Idlib province.

(With Reuters and AFP)