You are here: Home » PTI Stories » National » News
Business Standard

US-led Syria strikes hit Qaeda, Islamist rebels

AFP  |  Beirut 

US-led air strikes in Syria hit Al-Qaeda-linked militants and an Islamist rebel brigade in a rare expansion of weeks-long raids targeting the Islamic State group, a monitor said today.

American media reported that 24-year-old French bombmaker David Drugeon, a Muslim convert who joined an Al-Qaeda offshoot, the Khorasan group, was killed in the overnight strikes.

The raids hit Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Nusra Front for only the second time since the US-led coalition began bombings in the war-torn country on September 23, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Strikes near the Turkish border also targeted the Ahrar al-Sham rebel group for the first time, the British-based monitoring group said.

The Ahrar al-Sham rebel brigade is believed to have between 10,000 and 20,000 fighters and espouses a conservative ideology, though it has not expressed the same transnational jihadist aspirations as Al-Nusra or IS.

But many of its top leaders have ties to Al-Qaeda and the group has fought alongside Al-Nusra against other moderate rebel groupings in parts of northern Syria.

Fox and other American media reported that a US strike hit a vehicle in Syria's Idlib province, believed to be carrying Drugeon.

The car's driver lost a leg and was not expected to live, while a passenger believed to be Drugeon was killed, Fox said, citing "well-placed military sources."

US officials confirmed they had carried out strikes yesterday but said they could not confirm Drugeon had been killed.

"We are still assessing the outcome of the attack," Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steven Warren told AFP.

He said "initial indications" suggest the strikes destroyed or severely damaged "several Khorasan Group vehicles, terrorists and buildings assessed to be meeting and staging areas, IED-making facilities and training facilities.

The Syria conflict began as an uprising against President Bashar al-Assad's regime in 2011 and has since escalated into a multi-sided civil war that has drawn thousands of jihadists from overseas.

Syria's foreign minister told a Lebanese newspaper that Washington had pledged its air raids would not target Assad's army.

Even so, Waleed Muallem said Damascus was asking Russia to speed up delivery of controversial S-300 anti-aircraft missiles because of concerns US President Barack Obama faces increasing pressure to attack Syria.

The strikes against Al-Nusra killed several jihadists and two children in Idlib province while six jihadists were killed in raids in Aleppo, according to the Observatory, which relies on a network of sources on the ground.

The Al-Qaeda affiliate confirmed the strikes on Twitter, saying they were carried out by "the alliance of Crusaders and Arabs on Al-Nusra positions, causing deaths, mostly of civilians.

Dear Reader,

Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.
We, however, have a request.

As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.

Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.

Digital Editor

First Published: Thu, November 06 2014. 23:25 IST