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US: Deadly air strike in Syria hits al-Qaeda camp

News - Middle East

US claims air strike killed more than 100 al-Qaeda fighters just a day before President Obama left office.

A US air strike on Thursday targeting an al-Qaeda training camp in Syria killed more than 100 fighters, a US defence official said on Friday.

The strike took place just a day before the end of President Barack Obama's presidency and a day after more than 80 Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) were killed in US air strikes in Libya.

The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the air strike was primarily carried out by a B-52 bomber and dropped 14 munitions.

The official added that the strike against the camp took place in Idlib province, west of Aleppo, and there was a high level of confidence that there were no civilian casualties.

A US-led coalition has been carrying out air strikes and supporting local forces in Syria to oust ISIL.

Commanders killed

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported on Friday that an air strike killed more than 40 members of Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (formerly al Qaeda's Syrian branch) in northwestern Syria.

It was not immediately clear if this strike was the same one the US defence official was referring to.

A source in Fateh al-Sham confirmed that dozens had died in air strikes on a training camp in western Aleppo's countryside.

Jabhat Fateh al-Sham split from al-Qaeda in July, a move analysts said was aimed at easing pressure from both Russia and the United States.

However the group is not party to a Russian and Turkish-brokered ceasefire that went into effect on December 30.

According to the monitor, the group has sustained major losses in recent weeks with about 100 of its fighters killed since the start of 2017.

The Syrian conflict started in March 2011 as a largely unarmed uprising against President Bashar al-Assad and quickly emerged into a full-scale civil war. 

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