Airstrike of US Drone Kills Top Turkish Al-Qaeda Commander in Syria

Airstrike of US Drone Kills Top Turkish Al-Qaeda Commander in Syria
Thu Nov 3, 2016 15:50:53

Haydar Kirkan, a Turkish terrorist leader who had received military training and religious education at al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan in 1999, was taken out by a US drone strike on 17 October in Syria’s Idlib, US officials said on Wednesday.

“DOD confirms death of legacy al-Qaeda terrorist and external plotter Haydar Kirkan via US airstrike last month in Idlib province, Syria,” US envoy for the anti-ISIS campaign Brett McGurk said.

According to the United States, Kirkan was responsible for planning attacks overseas.

“He was actively engaged in planning external operations,” Pentagon Spokesman Captain Jeff Davis told reporters on Wednesday.

Kirkan was a high-profile Turkish al-Qaeda leader born in 1980 in Konya and was suspected of being involved in the Istanbul bombings in November 2003 that killed at least 59 people.

Kirkan has operated al-Qaeda groups inside Turkey in the past in the provinces of Konya, Istanbul, Kocaeli, and Izmir before 2011. Pentagon officials say he was responsible for external operations in the West and in Turkey for al-Qaeda being based in Syria’s Idlib.

“US has been tracking him for some time and there is a whole process for identifying and killing senior AQ officials in Syria and elsewhere,” Thomas Joscelyn, a Senior Fellow at Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) said.

“He was also killed in an AQ stronghold. The US has targeted a whole series of AQ leaders in Idlib, including earlier this year,” he said.

Most likely Kirkan was a member of Jahbat Fateh al-Sham that was previously known as al-Qaeda’s Jabhat al-Nusra. In July the group announced that it had split from al-Qaeda and said its primary focus was to fight Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

However, Russia and the United States say the group is still part of al-Qaeda and continue to target its positions, and have called on the Syrian opposition to disassociate itself from the group, ARA News reported.


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