A U.S. airstrike in northwest Syria on Sunday hit a meeting of senior al Qaeda officials at which prominent leader Abu Firas al-Suri was present.
WASHINGTON (Talk Media News) – A U.S. airstrike in northwest Syria on Sunday hit a meeting of senior al Qaeda officials at which prominent leader Abu Firas al-Suri was present, Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said on Monday.
Suri’s death has not been confirmed, Cook said.
Suri is a Syrian national who fought with al Qaeda in Afghanistan in the 1980s and 1990s and worked with founding al Qaeda members, including Osama bin Laden, to train terrorists and carry out attacks globally, according to Cook.
Cook refrained from casting Suri as a member of al Nusra Front, which U.S. defense officials characterize as the al Qaeda affiliate in Syria.
Under the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) the U.S. is allowed to wage war against “al Qaeda and associated forces.” The Pentagon has said these associated forces include the Islamic State militant group, as it grew out of al Qaeda in Iraq.
The U.S. has also targeted the Khorasan Group, which has been described by officials as a small al Qaeda offshoot in Syria.
“We consider al Qaeda members in Syria to be legitimate targets, and that was the focus of this strike,” Cook said.
Cook also confirmed the death of Hassan Ali Dhoore who had been targeted in a U.S. airstrike in Somalia.
Dhoore was a senior member of al Shabaab’s Amniyat wing, which handles security and intelligence, and had overseen attacks that killed at least three Americans, Cook said when announcing the initial strike.