District of Columbia: A US air strike targeted a "prominent" Al-Qaeda leader in Syria on Monday, the Pentagon said, amid reports a senior leader of the group was killed near Idlib.
Word of the strike came as regional news reports and social media postings said Ahmed Salama Mabrouk, an Egyptian also known by his nom de guerre Abu Faraj, had been killed in Idlib province in northwestern Syria.
"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," Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis said.
"This is a prominent Al-Qaeda leader." Davis said he was unable to discuss the target`s identity until the Pentagon could confirm the strike was successful.
"Each time we remove a significant Al-Qaeda leader, we disrupt and degrade their command and control and halt their expansion," he said.
Mabrouk was born in 1956 in the suburbs of Cairo. He 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.