Al-Qaeda branch confirms death of senior Syrian figure in US strike

An image grab taken from an undated video released via Al-Nusra's official channel Al-Manara Al-Baydaa shows Abu Firas al-Suri giving an interview at an undisclosed location.
An image grab taken from an undated video released via Al-Nusra's official channel Al-Manara Al-Baydaa shows Abu Firas al-Suri giving an interview at an undisclosed location. PHOTO: AFP

BEIRUT (REUTERS) - Al-Qaeda's North African branch has confirmed the death of a prominent leader of the network's Syrian affiliate, Abu Firas al-Suri, in a US air strike in Syria.

A statement by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb's (AQIM) media wing posted online late on Tuesday (April 5) paid tribute to Abu Firas and said a US air raid on Sunday killed him.

The statement, dated April 4, appeared to be the first public confirmation by Al-Qaeda.

US officials told Reuters on Monday that the United States carried out an air strike that killed Abu Firas. He was a senior member of Al-Qaeda's Syrian affiliate the Nusra Front's policymaking Shura Council.

A Pentagon spokesman said the US air strike hit a meeting of high-level Al-Qaeda officials in north-west Syria at which Abu Firas was present, and said the United States was still confirming whether Abu Firas had been killed.