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Syria: Senior al-Qaeda leader killed in US drone strike, says Pentagon

Abdul Hamid al-Matar reported dead in strike in the northwest, two days after US base assaulted in the south
The US Central Command spokesman Army Major John Rigsbee said there were no known other casualties from the drone strike on 22 October (AFP)

A senior al-Qaeda leader was killed in a US drone strike in Syria, the Pentagon said on Friday.

The strike came two days after a base in southern Syria, used by the US-led coalition fighting Islamic State, was assaulted.

"A US air strike today in northwest Syria killed senior al-Qaeda leader Abdul Hamid al-Matar," said Central Command spokesman Army Major John Rigsbee in a statement.

There were no known other casualties from the strike, he said, adding it was conducted using an MQ-9 aircraft.

Syria: US base in southeast attacked by drones, no casualties reported
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"The removal of this al-Qaeda senior leader will disrupt the terrorist organisation's ability to further plot and carry out global attacks," said Rigsbee.

At the end of September, the US killed Salim Abu-Ahmad, another senior al-Qaeda commander in Syria, in an air strike near Idlib in the country's northwest, AFP reported.

Ahmad had been responsible for "planning, funding, and approving trans-regional al-Qaeda attacks," according to Centcom.

"Al-Qaeda continues to present a threat to America and our allies. Al-Qaeda uses Syria as a safe haven to rebuild, coordinate with external affiliates, and plan external operations," said Rigsbee.

The ongoing war in Syria has created a complex battlefield involving foreign armies and multiple armed groups. 

The war has killed around half-a-million people since starting in 2011 with a brutal crackdown on anti-government protests.

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