Al-Qaeda top official killed in American strike northern Syria

Al-Qaeda senior official in Syria's Idlib, Radwan Nammous, also known as Abu Firas al-Suri, was killed in US strike on Sunday. File photo

ARA News 

ERBIL – Al-Qaeda branch in Syria, Jabhat al-Nusra (Nusra Front), on Sunday confirmed the death of its senior official Radwan Nammous, aka Abu Firas al-Suri, in a US airstrike in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province. 

Abu Firas al-Suri was the official spokesman of the al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front in Syria. 

This is the first time for the US-led coalition to attack the Nusra Front since the start of Syria’s cessation of hostilities on February 27.

Speaking to ARA News in Idlib, Nusra member Abu Saeed al-Holandi confirmed the death of al-Suri along with ten others in the American airstrike that targeted Kafr Jalis district in Idlib province on Sunday.  

So far it is unclear how the US killed the Nusra leader. “It wasn’t a drone. The raid was most likely conducted by a fighter jet or a cruise missile, it is still unclear,” the Nusra member told ARA News.

This comes amid continuous rifts and clashes between Nusra jihadis and US-backed Syrian moderate rebels of Division 13.

However, Nusra thinks Sunday’s strike has nothing to do with the tensions between the groups. 

“The US has been focusing its raids on ISIS leaders in Syria, but now it seems as if the time for Nusra [leaders] has come,” al-Holandi said. 

“Abu Firas [al-Suri] was a long standing jihadi operative and a leading official with Al Qaeda affiliate in Syria, so he was a natural target for the U.S.,” Hassan Hassan, a resident fellow at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy, told ARA News.

“Unlike other members of Nusra’s top echelon, al-Suri appeared publicly and moved around, especially as clashes started between ISIS and other jihadists in Syria. So he was probably an easier target to track than the other officials who were not known to other Syrians. He was more vulnerable to be tracked. Of course it is possible that he was not necessarily the specific target,” Hassan said. 

So far, the US-led coalition that operates fighter jets in Syria has not released any statement concerning al-Suri’s death.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg 

Source: ARA News 

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