Washington: The United States had been considering an attack on the Khorasan group in Syria for some time, and may have launched a strike even if it had not also decided to unleash its military on the Islamic State group.
Senior officials said Tuesday that the group, which Washington says is made up of seasoned al Qaeda operatives, had long been in the US crosshairs.
"We will take action against terrorists that pose a threat to the United States and the Khorasan group fits into that category," said a senior US official.
Another senior official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the military action in Syria against IS had provided an opportunity for Washington also to target Khorasan.
"This is something that has very much been on our radar for several months and it was an action that we were very much contemplating, separate and apart from the growing threat from ISIL," the official said.
Earlier a senior US military officer said that US military strikes targeted Khorasan because it was on the verge of executing "major attacks" against the West.
"Intelligence reports indicated that the group was in the final stages of plans to execute major attacks against western targets and potentially the US homeland," Lieutenant General William Mayville, director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters.
The strikes against the Khorasan group early Tuesday were separate from a wave of bombing raids led by the United States and backed by several Arab countries that targeted the Islamic State group.