The US military has targeted a “prominent” al-Qaeda leader in an airstrike in Syria, the Pentagon says, amid reports that one of the terror group’s senior commanders was killed near the Idlib province.
"We can confirm that we targeted a prominent al-Qaeda member in Syria, and we are assessing the results of the operation at this time," Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis said Monday.
"This is a prominent al-Qaeda leader," he said, refusing to reveal further details until the Pentagon could confirm the mission’s success.
Shortly after the announcement, the al-Nusra Front terrorist group, recently renamed as Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, confirmed that Salama Mabrouk, an Egyptian leader of the group also known as Abu Faraj, was killed in a US-led airstrike near Idlib.
Born in 1956 in Egypt's Giza province, Mabrouk was a veteran al-Qaeda leader and served as a commander of the al-Nusra Front, which recently parted ways with al-Qaeda.
“Each time we remove a significant al-Qaeda leader, we disrupt and degrade their command and control and halt their expansion,” Davis said.
Washington is under fire for its double policies with regards to terrorist groups wreaking havoc in Syria.
US officials claim they are fighting terrorist groups like Daesh (ISIL), while they openly fund and equip militant groups who are waging war against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Last week, one of the al-Nusra Front commanders told the German-language daily Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger that the US is among several countries that actively support the group.
Besides American TOW anti-tank missiles, al-Nusra has been receiving funding from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait, and has obtained tanks and artillery from Libya via Turkey, said the commander who was identified only as Abu al-Ezz.
Syrian Parliament Speaker Hadiya Khalaf Abbas said last week that Washington was siding with Daesh and other militant outfits operating inside the country.