Top Al-Qaeda Leader killed in Syria strike

A senior al-Qaeda commander has been killed along with two other al-Qaeda militants in an airstrike in Syria, says a UK-based monitoring group.

Al-Qaeda leader Abdul Mohsen Abdallah Ibrahim al-Charekh was killed in a strike on the city of Dana in northern Syria and two other fighters in Syria, activists said Saturday, but it was not immediately clear whether it was carried out by the U.S.-led coalition or Russian warplanes.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Abdul Mohsen Abdallah Ibrahim al-Charekh, a Saudi better known as Sanafi al-Nasr, was killed Thursday in an airstrike near the northern Syrian town of Dana, along with another Saudi and a Moroccan member of al-Qaeda’s local affiliate, known as the Nusra Front.

Russian warplanes have been carrying out airstrikes in Syria since Sept. 30. A U.S.-led coalition has been targeting the Nusra Front and ISIS for more than a year.

The Observatory’s chief Rami Abdurrahman said it was not clear if al-Charekh was killed by U.S. or Russian warplanes. The Observatory, which relies on a network of activists inside Syria, said an Egyptian commander escaped the bombing. It said all four men had been dispatched to Syria by al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri.

Extremist activists on social media say al-Charekh was killed by a U.S. drone strike.

A U.S. official said an American drone targeted and struck al-Charekh but the U.S. was waiting for confirmation that he was actually killed in the attack. The official was not authorized to discuss the strike publicly so spoke on condition of anonymity.