Pentagon officials have reported that a weekend airstrike against Syria’s Idlib Province killed 11 al-Qaeda figures, including high-ranking member Abu Hani al-Masri, who they describe as having long-time ties to al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden.
Officials described Masri as about 65 years old, and having trained “thousands of terrorists” worldwide, having been involved in establishing al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan since the 1980s. Pentagon officials say they believe this will “disrupt” al-Qaeda’s ability to carry out attacks.
The description suggests Masri was a very long-time al-Qaeda member indeed, though it is unclear from the comments what exactly he’s been doing for the last 20 years with the organization, or for that matter why he ended up in Syria with the Nusra affiliate, since al-Qaeda has been eager to present Nusra as having distanced itself from the parent organization.
It is also unclear if this strike is related to one reported by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which killed 13 al-Qaeda and 24 civilians. The official US statement did not mention any civilian casualties, though they are notorious for underreporting civilian deaths at any rate.