Syria crisis

Drone strike in Syria kills 2 al-Qaeda-linked operatives

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A drone strike believed to have been carried out by the US-led coalition in northwestern Syria on Friday killed two operatives with an al-Qaeda-linked group, Syrian opposition activists said.

The two militants were killed while riding a motorcycle near the northern village of Qah, close to the Turkish border, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war monitor, and several other activist collectives.

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There was no immediate comment from the US military. The strike was the latest in a series of attacks over the past years targeting al-Qaeda-linked militants in northwestern Syria.

The opposition’s Syrian Civil Defense, also known as White Helmets, said its members extinguished a fire caused by the drone strike, adding that two “unknown persons” were killed.

The Observatory said the two were members of Horas al-Din, which is Arabic for “Guardians of Religion.” The group includes hardcore al-Qaeda members who broke away from Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the strongest insurgent group in Idlib province. Idlib is the last major rebel enclave in war-torn Syria.

The Observatory also said that one of the two killed men was an Iraqi citizen.

In June last year, a drone strike by the US-led coalition in Idlib province killed Abu Hamzah al Yemeni. a senior member of Horas al-Din.

In 2017, a US airstrike killed a former aide to Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda’s second in command in Syria, Abu al-Kheir al-Masri.

The former top US envoy to the coalition battling the ISIS, Brett McGurk, said at the time when he was in the post that Idlib is the largest al-Qaeda haven since bin Laden’s days in Afghanistan.

Read more: Turkish forces killed alleged mastermind behind Istanbul street bombing

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