ISIS Leaders Killed in US Strike, Jinah, Syria
Key Al-Qaeda Terrorists Believed Dead
Military officials believe dozens of core al-Qaida (al-Qaeda) leaders were killed in a U.S. strike in Jinah, Syria, on Thursday (16 March 2017), according to Pentagon spokesman, US Navy Capt. Jeff Davis.
Attack on Mosque
Speaking to reporters today and in a later written statement, Capt. Davis, the director of defense press operations, emphasized that a mosque in the area was not targeted. He released a post-strike aerial photograph showing the mosque adjacent to a destroyed building.
I wanted to draw your attention to it, because I think there are a lot of reports suggesting that we had targeted a mosque. We did not. Of course, you know we never would.
The strike, conducted by manned and unmanned aircraft, occurred around 7 p.m. local time, Davis said, about 17 miles southwest of Aleppo. It was, he said.
“We struck a meeting of senior al-Qaida terrorists — some of these were likely high-value individuals,” Davis said. “We’re currently assessing that.”
Jinah was al-Qaida Safe Haven
The area has been a significant safe haven for al-Qaida since it re-established a Shura Council in Syria last year, Davis said, adding that extensive surveillance took place before the strike.
“We do not currently assess there were any civilian casualties,” he said. “As always, you know we take extraordinary measures to mitigate the loss of civilian life in our operations.”
Further ISIS Losses in Syria
In other developments in Syria, Davis noted the Syrian Arab Coalition recently made territorial gains of about four square miles against heavy enemy resistance east of Raqqa. In northern Syria, around Manbij, the situation is “business as usual,” he said.
We continue to have some U.S. forces that are visibly positioned west of the city, inside the [forward line of troops]. But we have seen a lot of the Turkish-supported opposition who were there before start to back off, and there seems to be growing respect for that [forward line of troops].
(The US DoD uses the terms al-Qaida, ISIS and ISIL to refer to the same terrorist group controlling parts of Syria and Iraq; other terms include al-Qaeda, Islamic State and Daesh.)
Source: US Department of Defense
Photo: US strike, Jinah, Syria, on 16 March 2017 (US DoD).