A US air strike killed Abu Faraj al-Masri, leader of al Nusra Front, this week in Syria, BBC reports.
Al-Masri had been closely associated with al Qaeda, before al Nusra supposedly split with the larger terror organization in July of this year. The United States continues to classify al Nusra as a Syrian affiliate of al Qaeda.
The United States targeted a “prominent Al Qaeda member in Syria,” stated Jeff Davis, a spokesman for the Pentagon on Monday. However, the Department of Defense refused to confirm the details of the strike, including the identity of the target, until the full outcome of the mission has been assessed.
Shortly after the Pentagon released this statement, an al Nusra Front twitter account announced the death of the insurgent.
Al-Masri was reportedly killed in a strike in the Idlib province of Syria, near the border with Turkey.
Al Nusra attempted to rebrand this summer by changing their name to Fatah al-Sham and renouncing ties to al Qaeda. They did so in a video in which al-Masri appeared next to the group’s leader. The move was seen in the West as a ploy to avoid continued air strikes against their agents.
However, in a rare show of consensus, both Russia and the United States agreed to continue targeting the group. Al Nusra’s failure to shirk their al Qaeda image is considered to be due to the involvement of characters like al-Masri, who have been so closely related to the more famous terror organization.