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DAMASCUS – A top commander of al-Nusra Front (Syria’s branch of al-Qaeda) has been killed with other two militants in an airstrike in a town in northern Syria, activists reported on Saturday.
“Abdul Mohsen Abdallah Ibrahim al-Charekh, also known as Sanafi al-Nasr, a Suadi national, was killed Thursday in an airstrike near the northern Syrian town of Dana, along with another Saudi and a Moroccan member of al-Nusra,” media activist Ziyad Homsi told ARA News.
The source could not confirm whether the airstrike that killed the senior militants was conducted by the U.S.-led coalition or Russia.
The U.S.-led coalition has been targeting the Nusra Front and the Islamic State radical group (ISIS) for more than a year, while Russia’s airstrikes in Syria started on Sept. 30, 2015.
Homsi said that among the targeted men there was an Egyptian jihadi commander, who has survived the bombing. The targeted group of Nusra senior militants is understood to have been sent to Syria by al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri.
The U.N. Security Council has earlier imposed sanctions on six jihadi men, including al-Charekh. He was one of most-wanted militants by Saudi Arabia.
According to reports, al-Charekh was a member of the Khorasan group, a secret group of al-Qaeda sent from Pakistan to Syria in order to plot attacks against the West, according to U.S. officials.
In a separate development, Russia said its warplanes conducted 36 air raids in Syria over the past 24 hours, targeting a total of 49 positions in the provinces of Hama, Idlib, Latakia, Damascus and Aleppo.
“One of the targets was a building on the outskirts of the town of Salma in the coastal province of Latakia,” Russian Maj. Gen. Igoro Konashenkov has said.
The Syrian state agency, SANA, reported that the Syrian army has carried out operations in Salma and the nearby areas, killing and wounding at least 300 “terrorists”.
“A number of terrorists-led vehicles and hideouts were destroyed,” SANA added.
Salma is predominantly inhabited by the Alawite minority –the sect of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Backed by Russian airstrikes, pro-Assad forces and allied Iranian troops have intensified military operations on the opposition-held areas.
“Under Russian air cover, the pro-Assad forces regained the villages of Wadihi, Sabqiyeh and Shgheidleh in Aleppo province,” a local activist reported on Saturday.
Reporting by: Resho Issa
Source: ARA News