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

February 24, 2023 GMT

BEIRUT (AP) — A drone strike believed to have been carried out by the U.S.-led coalition in northwestern Syria on Friday killed two operatives with an al-Qaida-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.

There was no immediate comment from the U.S. military. The strike was the latest in a series of attacks over the past years targeting al-Qaida-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-Qaida 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 U.S.-led coalition in Idlib province killed Abu Hamzah al Yemeni. a senior member of Horas al-Din.

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

The former top U.S. envoy to the coalition battling the Islamic State group, Brett McGurk, said at the time when he was in the post that Idlib is the largest al-Qaida haven since bin Laden’s days in Afghanistan.