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    Drone strike in Syria kills two al-Qaeda-linked operatives

    BEIRUT (AP) – A drone strike believed to have been carried out by the United States (US)-led coalition in northwestern Syria on Friday killed two operatives with an al-Qaeda-linked group, Syrian opposition activists said.

    The two militants were killed while riding a motorcycle near the northern village of Qah, close to the Turkish border, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war monitor, and several other activist collectives.

    There was no immediate comment from the US military. The strike was the latest in a series of attacks over the past years targeting al-Qaeda-linked militants in northwestern Syria.

    The opposition’s Syrian Civil Defence, also known as White Helmets, said its members extinguished a fire caused by the drone strike, adding that two “unknown persons” were killed.

    The Observatory said the two were members of Horas al-Din.

    The group includes hardcore al-Qaeda members who broke away from Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the strongest insurgent group in Idlib province.

    Idlib is the last major rebel enclave in war-torn Syria. The Observatory also said that one of the two killed men was an Iraqi citizen.

    In June last year, a drone strike by the US-led coalition in Idlib province killed a senior member of Horas al-Din Abu Hamzah al Yemeni.

    In 2017, a US airstrike killed a former aide to Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda’s second in command in Syria, Abu al-Kheir al-Masri.

    A former top US envoy to the coalition battling the Islamic State group, Brett McGurk, said at the time when he was in the post that Idlib is the largest al-Qaeda haven since bin Laden’s days in Afghanistan.

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