Washington: The jihadist Fateh al-Sham Front, formerly Al-Qaeda's affiliate in Syria, confirmed that an air strike had killed a senior leader, after the Pentagon said it had targeted a "prominent" Al-Qaeda figure.
"Ahmed Salama, known as Abu Faraj the Egyptian and a member of the shura (consultative council) of Fateh al-Sham Front, was martyred after a coalition air strike in the west of Idlib province," the group said yesterday in a statement on the Telegram app.
Captain Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said a US strike had targeted a top Al-Qaeda leader on Monday, but he declined to discuss the target's identity until officials could confirm the strike was successful.
"We can confirm that we targeted a prominent Al-Qaeda member in Syria, and we are assessing the results of the operation at this time," Davis said.
"This is a prominent Al-Qaeda leader."
Ahmed Salama Mabrouk, an Egyptian also known by his nom de guerre Abu Faraj, was born in 1956 in the suburbs of Cairo and is known as a veteran Al-Qaeda leader and a commander of the Fateh al-Sham Front.
The group is a former Al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria previously known as Al-Nusra Front.
It split in July from the global jihadist network founded by Osama bin Laden, in a move analysts said was aimed at easing pressure from both Moscow and Washington.
Though the Pentagon would not confirm the target was indeed Mabrouk, military officials do not consider Fateh al-Sham to truly have broken with Al-Qaeda.
"We are aware of al-Nusra's announced name change. The individuals that are there are still Nusra to us," Davis said.
"There's obviously close affiliations" to Al-Qaeda, he added.