Friday 20 October 2017

US airstrike kills more than 100 'core' al Qaida militants in Syria

The militants killed in the air strikes were described as
The militants killed in the air strikes were described as "core" al Qaida members

US warplanes have bombed an al Qaida training camp in Syria, killing more than 100 militants, the Pentagon said.

It marked the second major US counter-terrorism strike in the final hours of Barack Obama's presidency,

Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt Jeff Davis said the camp in Idlib province had been active since at least 2013.

"The removal of this training camp disrupts training operations and discourages hard-line Islamist and Syrian opposition groups from joining or co-operating with al Qaida on the battlefield," Davis said.

The Syria strike was carried out by one B-52 bomber and an undisclosed number of US aerial drones.

It took place on Thursday, less than 24 hours after a combination of B-2 stealth bombers and drones struck two military camps in a remote part of Libya, killing 80 to 90 Islamic State militants.

Barack Obama specifically authorised the Libya strike. It was not clear whether the Syria strike required his direct approval.

The militants killed in the Syria attack were described by one defence official as "core" al Qaida members, among a number who had moved to Syria early last year to establish a foothold.

The official distinguished these militants from members of the group formerly known as the Nusra Front, which is an al Qaida affiliate in Syria.

Davis said Thursday's attack capped a string of successful strikes against al Qaida this month.

He said the strikes have killed more than 150 members of the group since January 1.

They include Mohammad Habib Boussadoun al-Tunisi, an external operations leader, killed last Tuesday, the spokesman said.

"These strikes, conducted in quick succession, degrade al Qaida's capabilities, weaken their resolve, and cause confusion in their ranks," Davis said.

AP

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