On December 12, at least five US General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper combat drones were spotted over the northwestern Syrian region of Greater Idlib.
The drones were flying over the northern part of the region, mainly between the town of al-Dana and the Bab al-Hawa crossing on the border with Turkey. Al-Dana and Bab al-Hawa are known to be key strongholds of al-Qaeda-affiliated Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the de-facto ruler of the region.
Opposition activists shared photos showing four of the drones. All four drones were armed and carrying unidentified pods, likely used for communication or intelligence gathering.
— Ammar Alzeer (@AmmarAlzeer) December 12, 2021
On December 3, a US drone strike that targeted a motorcycle moving on a road in the southern part of Greater Idlib killed Musab Khalid Kin’an, a former bodyguard of al-Qaeda’s Horas al-Din senior leader Abu Abdulrahman al-Makki. The drone strike also wounded five civilians, all members of the same family. The US Central Command is currently investigating the strike.
Around ten days before the strike, a heavily armed US General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper combat drone was spotted flying over Greater Idlib.
Under the rule of HTS, Greater Idlib became in the recent years the largest safe haven for wanted terrorists in the Middle East. Despite this, not a single commander or fighter of the terrorist group was targeted by the US in the past three year.
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