The U.S. military announced that senior al-Qaida leader Salim Abu-Ahmad was killed in a Sept. 20 drone strike, adding there “are no indications of civilian casualties.”
“Salim Abu-Ahmad was responsible for planning, funding, and approving trans-regional al-Qaida attacks,” U.S. Central Command spokesman Army Maj. John Rigsbee told Military Times. “There are no indications of civilian casualties as a result of the strike. This strike continues U.S. operations to degrade international terrorist networks and target terrorist leaders who seek to attack the U.S. homeland and its interests and allies abroad.”
While CENTCOM officials did not acknowledge an unmanned drone conducted the Sept. 20 operation in rural northwestern Syria, rescue workers and a war monitor had described the strike as coming from a U.S. drone, according to the report.
According to a Sept. 20 tweet from a Syria news report, claiming a car carrying one was destroyed:
#Syria: after several months of pause, US resumed drone strikes in #Idlib. A car near Binnish was destroyed, killing one. Armed US UAVs were spotted past days.
The report comes one day after the Taliban warned of consequences if the United States did not stop flying drones over Afghan airspace.
“The U.S. has violated all international rights and laws as well as its commitments made to the Taliban in Doha, Qatar, with the operation of these drones in Afghanistan,” the Taliban said in a statement, Reuters reported.
“We call on all countries, especially [the] United States, to treat Afghanistan in light of international rights, laws and commitments … in order to prevent any negative consequences.”
The drone strike also comes as U.S. military leaders testified this week before the Senate and House Armed Services committees, including Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, White House Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley, and CENTCOM Commander Gen. Kenneth McKenzie.
McKenzie acknowledged to Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., that the Taliban have retained close ties to al-Qaida in Afghanistan.
“The Taliban and al-Qaida have a very close relationship, and I do not expect the Taliban to seriously interfere with their basing or repositioning in Afghanistan,” McKenzie said in his House Armed Services Committee testimony.
President Joe Biden and the Pentagon brass have been under fire for mistakenly killing an Afghan civilian and children in a Hellfire missile strike shortly after the Aug. 26 suicide bombing that killed 13 U.S. service members.
“The strike was a tragic mistake,” McKenzie told a Pentagon news conference.