Two senior al Qaeda operatives were reportedly killed in an American drone strike in Syria’s Idlib Governorate on Thursday.
Though the strike has yet to be confirmed by the Department of Defense’s Central Command, regional experts have circulated images and information indicating that the two operatives were killed. The two operatives, Abu Dhar al-Masri and Abu Yusuf al-Maghrebi, were both defectors from Huras al-Din, an insurgent group active in Syria.
A 2019 drone strike was said to have killed key members of Huras al-Din, including Abu Dhar, but the new strike’s confirmation would dispel those rumors.
While al Qaeda's numbers have dwindled significantly in recent years—the State Department estimates al Qaeda’s contingent in Afghanistan is below 200 members—it is also the case that the terrorist group still cooperates with the more-established insurgency of the Taliban.
Due to increasing regional instability, Washington sent a new cohort of U.S. troops to Syria in September. Recent reporting also shows a renewed pattern of Russian aggression in Syria.
The Taliban have been reassuring American diplomats that they have control of al Qaeda operations and will limit their own military action. But they have engaged in a new campaign of violence as Washington continues to pursue peace.
A new report from NBC News suggests that President Donald Trump is considering giving a landmark foreign-policy speech in the coming weeks, with an added emphasis on his changing Middle East policy. In recent weeks, the president has said he hopes to bring all troops in Afghanistan home by Christmas, though senior national security officials in the administration consider the prospect unlikely.
At present, the Pentagon has no stated plans to bring all troops from Afghanistan home, though troop reductions with a target of 2,500 to 3,000 personnel remaining in Afghanistan have already been planned, with strategists working on limited withdrawal options to meet that goal.