U.S. forces reportedly launched an airstrike on suspected al-Qaida terrorist leaders in the Syrian province of Idlib on Saturday.
Forty jihadist leaders were killed by the strike, according to a battlefield monitor, Military.com reported.
Strike targets al-Qaida
The aircraft-launched missile strike was confirmed in a brief statement from U.S. Central Command, which noted that the strike had been aimed at a facility north of Idlib. The facility is believed to have been used by Al-Qaeda leaders in Syria.
“This operation targeted AQ-S leaders responsible for attacks threatening U.S. citizens, our partners, and innocent civilians. Additionally, the removal of this facility will further degrade their ability to conduct future attacks and destabilize the region,” said Lt. Col. Earl Brown, chief of media operations for CENTCOM.
“Northwest Syria remains a safe haven where AQ-S leaders actively coordinate terrorist activities throughout the region and in the West. With our allies and partners, we will continue to target violent extremists to prevent them from using Syria as a safe haven,” the CENTCOM spokesman added.
Russia squawks about strikes
There is reportedly a tenuous cease-fire at the moment in northwestern Syria where the brutal years-long civil war between Bashar al-Assad’s government and anti-Assad opposition forces continues to this day. While the strike on al-Qaida terrorists should be welcome news to all, the Russian government, which backs Assad, appears to be a bit peeved at reportedly being left out of the loop with regard to the strike.
Russian media outlet RT reported that the Russian Defense Ministry said it was concerned that the airstrike could endanger the tenuous truce and provoke future attacks on Syrian and Russian forces by the opposition forces. Some of the rebels are allied with U.S. interests, but others are jihadist-orientated and hold no allegiance to any nation-state or international body outside of their own version of Islamic faith.
The Russian Defense Ministry reportedly claimed that “multiple casualties and destruction” occurred between two villages in Idlib province, and further claimed that the strike not only “endangered the truce,” but also “violated all previous arrangements” with regard to advance notice and cooperation ahead of military action in the region.
Idlib province has been the central location for continued fighting in Syria in 2019, and following a major spring offensive by Syrian forces to reclaim a portion of that disputed area, a cease-fire agreement was negotiated between the Syrian government and opposition forces by diplomats from Russia and Turkey.
The goal is for the truce in the northwest to take hold and remain in much the same way as a negotiated truce was reached in the northeast portion of Syria in September 2018.
It is worth noting, however, that the U.S. doesn’t consider jihadist organizations like al-Qaida as under the broad definition of legitimate “opposition forces” in Syria. As such they aren’t under the protection of the negotiated cease-fire agreement that the U.S. played no real role in.
The point is and will always remain — Islamic extremists and jihadist organizations like al-Qaida, who threaten U.S. citizens and interests around the world, are fair game no matter where they reside, and the U.S. isn’t afraid to smack them down with deadly force whenever or wherever they may be found.