US defense officials confirmed to Fox News on Thursday that, a senior al Qaeda leader was killed in a drone strike in Syria.

On September 20, Salim Abu-Ahmad was killed in a US airstrike near Idlib, Syria. He was in charge of al Qaeda’s trans-regional attacks, including planning, funding, and approval.

No civilian casualties

“There are no indications of civilian casualties,” U.S. defense officials said. 

According to the Associated Press, a drone strike hit a vehicle traveling on a rural road in rebel-controlled northwestern Syria, killing at least one person.

The unidentified body was lifted from the car along the Idlib-Binnish road east of Idlib province, according to the Civil Defense team known as the White Helmets.

The Pentagon has confirmed that senior Al Qaeda leader Salim Abu-Ahmad was killed in a US drone strike in Syria. The aftermath of the September 20 strike is seen above
The Pentagon has confirmed that senior Al Qaeda leader Salim Abu-Ahmad was killed in a US drone strike in Syria. The aftermath of the September 20 strike is seen above

U.S. Central Command said American forces had conducted a “kinetic counterterrorism strike” near Idlib province targeting a senior leader of the militant group al Qaeda.

“Initial indications are that we struck the individual we were aiming for, and there are no indications of civilian casualties as a result of the strike,” said Navy Lt. Josie Lynne Lenny in a statement

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the vehicle had been carrying a militant linked to al Qaeda. 

The US has previously carried out attacks in Idlib, targeting al Qaeda militants and the Islamic State group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was hiding in the province after fleeing from eastern Syria.

A drone is seen in Idlib province around the time of the strike on September 20
A drone is seen in Idlib province around the time of the strike on September 20

Who is Salim Abu-Ahmad?

‘Salim Abu-Ahmad was responsible for planning, funding, and approving trans-regional al-Qaeda attacks,’ Army Maj. John Rigsbee, a CENTCOM spokesman, told Military Times on Thursday. 

‘There are no indications of civilian casualties as a result of the strike. This strike continues U.S. operations to degrade international terrorist networks and target terrorist leaders who seek to attack the U.S. homeland and its interests and allies abroad,’ he added. 

Little is know about Abu-Ahmad, whose name does not seem to appear on US or EU sanctions lists of known terrorists.

The US-coalition drone strike also killed at least two senior Jordanian and a Yemeni commander of Huras al-Din [HaD] or The Guardians of Religion Organization, a hardline Syrian rebel faction with leadership ties to al-Qaeda, the Syrian press had reported.

It had identified one casualty of the strike as general military commander Qassam al-Urduni, and the other Bilal al-Sanaani, the commander of the group’s so-called “desert army” dominated by al-Qaida-linked terrorists.

“Horas al-Din are hardcore al-Qaida elements who broke away from Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the strongest insurgent group in the Idlib enclave,” Associated Press reported.