Multiple al-Qaida affiliate leaders in Syria taken out by U.S. airstrikes

President Donald Trump has consistently demonstrated that he is unafraid to go after radical Islamist terrorist organizations, be it the Islamic State or al-Qaida.

Several more terrorist leaders were taken out by the United States this month in several airstrikes in Afghanistan and Syria, one of which reportedly took out seven leaders of al-Qaida affiliates who were gathered together for a meeting near the embattled city of Idlib, the New York Post reported.

That strike in Syria reportedly occurred on Oct. 22. It was also announced on Monday that a top al-Qaida propagandist who was on the FBI’s “Most Wanted” list had been killed by Afghan forces in a daring raid in eastern Afghanistan, though few details on the raid have been released yet.

Al-Qaida leaders killed in airstrike

A spokesperson for U.S. Central Command confirmed the deaths of the seven al-Qaida affiliate leaders in the Oct. 22 airstrike near Idlib, though the names of those particular leaders have yet to be released publicly, the Associated Press reported.

“The removal of these AQ-S leaders will disrupt the terrorist organization’s ability to further plot and carryout global attacks threatening U.S. citizens, our partners, and innocent civilians,” Maj. Beth Riordan said on behalf of CENTCOM.

“AQ-S takes advantage of the instability in northwest Syria to establish and maintain safe havens to coordinate terrorist activities,” Riordan added. “With our allies and partners, we will continue to target al-Qaida and other terrorist organizations.”

Two senior leaders taken out in earlier airstrike

The strike in Syria occurred just one week after another major U.S. airstrike in the same area, the AP reported. According to SOFREP, that targeted strike on Oct. 15 near Idlib was believed to have ended the reign of terror of two senior al-Qaida leaders in the region.

Neither of those leaders have been named yet, but watchdog observers on the ground claimed that one was Jordanian and the other was Yemeni. Both were reportedly top commanders with the main al-Qaida affiliate in Syria, a group known as Hurras al-Deen, which has joined forces with another formerly premier al-Qaida affiliate in the region known as Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, along with other various jihadist groups.

The two leaders were said to have been killed in a targeted airstrike from a U.S. drone on their vehicle. That strike was said to have employed a special non-explosive Hellfire missile that was designed to minimize collateral damage, as it uses the force of dense material and deployed blades to destroy a particular target rather than high explosives.

Al-Qaida propagandist wanted by FBI

Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, the Afghan government claimed to have killed a top al-Qaida leader and propagandist on the FBI’s “Most Wanted” list named Husam Abd al-Rauf, also known as Abu Muhsin al-Masri, an Egyptian who has been a top target for several years, Politico reported.

Few details regarding the raid have been released, except for the identity of al-Rauf and the claim that he was one of six militants killed in an Afghan special forces raid on a home in the village of Kunsaf in a district controlled by the Taliban. It is unclear if U.S. intelligence or operational planning played a role in that raid.

Unfortunately, the fact that an al-Qaida leader was taking refuge in territory controlled by the Taliban could upset the tenuous peace deal reached in February between the U.S. and the Taliban. For what it is worth, the Taliban has remained quiet about the incident, except for a brief statement announcing an investigation into what happened.

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