US Central Command (CENTCOM) spokesperson Captain Bill Urban confirmed to Fox News that a US combat drone carried out the December 3 strike on the northwestern Syrian governorate of Idlib, revealing that the target was a senior al-Qaeda leader and planner.
“U.S. forces conducted a kinetic strike near Idlib, Syria, December 3, targeting a senior al-Qaeda leader and planner,” Cpt. Urban said in a statement to the New York-based news network. “The strike was conducted using a precision strike method from MQ-9 aircraft.”
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the drone strike killed Musab Khalid Kin’an, a Turkish language student who used to work as a bodyguard for al-Qaeda’s Horas al-Din senior leader Abu Abdulrahman al-Makki.
The strike also wounded five civilians, all members of the same family, who happened to pass by the motorcycle of Kin’an when he was targeted.
Cpt. Urban acknowledged to Fox News that an “initial review of this strike indicates the potential for possible civilian casualties.”
“We abhor the loss of innocent life and take all possible measures to prevent them. The possibility of a civilian casualty was immediately self-reported to U.S. Central Command. We are initiating a full investigation of the allegations and will release the results when appropriate,” Urban added.
Under the rule of al-Qaeda-affiliated Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, Idlib became a large safe haven for wanted terrorists in the Middle East. Yet, the terrorist group’s fighters and leaders are not being targeted by the US.
All recent US drone strikes on Idlib targeted Horas al-Din. In September, a drone strike killed the terrorist group’s senior leader Salim Abu-Ahmad in the eastern countryside of the governorate.