Senior al Qaeda leader killed in U.S. airstrike

The United States announced on Friday that an airstrike killed a senior al Qaeda leader in Syria.

“A U.S. airstrike today in northwest Syria killed senior al-Qaeda leader Abdul Hamid al-Matar. We have no indications of civilian casualties as a result of the strike, which was conducted using an MQ-9 aircraft,” Army Maj. John Rigsbee, a spokesperson for the U.S. Central Command, said in a statement.

“Al-Qaeda continues to present a threat to America and our allies. Al-Qaeda uses Syria as a safe haven to rebuild, coordinate with external affiliates, and plan external operations. Al-Qaeda also uses Syria as a base for threats reaching into Syria, Iraq and beyond,” Rigsbee continued. “The removal of this al-Qaeda senior leader will disrupt the terrorist organization’s ability to further plot and carry out global attacks threatening U.S. citizens, our partners, and innocent civilians.”

Only several days earlier, the Pentagon said in a statement that a “deliberate and coordinated attack” had been waged against American forces in Syria, according to The Washington Post. The attack, which targeted the Tanf base where roughly 200 Americans are stationed, did not appear to harm or kill any of U.S. service members that officials were aware of as of Wednesday.

The Pentagon did not indicate in its Wednesday statement who may have been behind the attack, and the U.S. Central Command did not indicate Friday if this attack had been waged in retaliation. 

Outside of the north of Syria, which is controlled by the Kurds, the most prominent American military presence exists in Tanf. The base lies close to an intersection between Syria’s, Jordan’s and Iraq’s borders. The Tanf base has previously providing training to oppositional groups in Syria in a larger effort by the U.S. to fight against ISIS militants.

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