US strike kills Qaeda ‘attack planner’ in Syria: Pentagon

Washington: A US drone strike in Syria last month killed an Al-Qaeda member with ties to the organization’s senior leadership, the Pentagon said today.

The October 17 strike near Idlib northwestern Syria killed Haydar Kirkan, who “was intent on plotting and carrying out attacks against the West,” Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis said.

“He was a long serving and experienced courier for Al-Qaeda in Syria. He had ties to Al-Qaeda’s senior leaders to include Osama bin Laden himself, and he was Al-Qaeda’s senior external terror attack planner in Syria,” Davis said, without describing any of the purported plots.

In recent weeks, the Pentagon has targeted other Al-Qaeda members.

On October 23, US drone strikes targeted two top Qaeda leaders in Afghanistan.

While officials have not confirmed any deaths, they are privately confident the strikes killed Farouq al-Qahtani, Al-Qaeda’s emir for northeastern Afghanistan, and his deputy Bilal al-Utabi.

On October 21 in Yemen, five Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) members were killed in a US air strike, including local AQAP leader Abu Hadi al-Bayhani, Davis said.

“Al-Qaeda doesn’t recognize borders when they conspire to commit terrorist attacks against the West, and we will continue to work with our partners and allies to find and destroy their leaders, their fighters and their cells that are planning attacks externally,” Davis said.