Abdul Hamid al-Matar, one of the leaders of al-Qaeda, said Major John Rigsbee, a spokesman for the Central Command (CENTCOM), in a US drone attack in northwestern Syria on Friday. The US air force strike came the day after the attack on the base at al-Tanf, where US troops are stationed.
The attack by the American air force took place near the city of Tall Abjad (Kurd. Girê Spî) in the Ar-Rakka muhafazi, near the border with Turkey. Al-Matar was associated with the Hurras el-Din (Religious Guard) group.
“The US air force attack in northwestern Syria killed the high al-Qaeda commander Abdul Hamid al-Matar,” reported Major Rigsbee. He added that “there are no reports of civilian fatalities or injuries.” “Al-Qaeda is using Syria as a safe haven to rebuild its military potential, coordinate activities with other groups and plan new actions. In addition, northern Syria is the starting point for attacks in Iraq and other countries in the region,” the CENTCOM statement said.
According to the Pentagon, with the liquidation of the high al-Qaeda commander, it significantly weakened the possibility of planning attacks that would threaten US citizens, US partners and innocent citizens.
Retaliation for the attack on the US base
Agence France Presse notes that the impact of the US MQ-9 Reaper unmanned combat drone on the Hurras el-Din jihadist camp took place just a day after the attack on the al-Tanf base. On Wednesday evening, there was a missile attack on the barracks where US special forces are stationed. The shelling did not cause major losses and did not result in any casualties.
The Syrian Human Rights Observatory said the attack was carried out using two drones and several small missiles. One of the drones was supposed to hit the part of the barracks occupied by the US special forces, and the other – the part where the Syrian opposition forces are stationed.
Al-Matar is another Syrian jihadist commander to be killed by US air forces in recent weeks. In late September, the Americans located Salim Abou-Ahmad, who was responsible for al-Qaeda’s finance, planning and logistics, in the province of Idleb. The man was killed by a drone.
Some 900 US troops are still stationed in Syria, training the military forces of the Syrian opposition. They are staying at the al-Tanf military base, where an explosion took place on Wednesday.
Main photo source: Lubos Pavlicek / CTK / PAP