Senior al Qaeda leader killed in drone strike in Syria, US defense officials say

The figure was responsible for planning, funding, and approving trans-regional al Qaeda attacks

A senior al Qaeda leader has been killed in a drone strike in Syria, U.S. defense officials confirmed to Fox News Thursday. 

Salim Abu-Ahmad was killed in a U.S. airstrike near Idlib, Syria on Sept. 20. He was responsible for planning, funding, and approving trans-regional al Qaeda attacks. 

A U.S. Air Force MQ-1B Predator unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), carrying a Hellfire missile flies over an air base after flying a mission in the Persian Gulf region. 

A U.S. Air Force MQ-1B Predator unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), carrying a Hellfire missile flies over an air base after flying a mission in the Persian Gulf region.  (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

"There are no indications of civilian casualties," U.S. defense officials said. 

The Associated Press reported Sept. 20 that a drone strike hit a vehicle traveling on a rural road in rebel-controlled northwestern Syria, killing at least one person.

The Civil Defense team, known as White Helmets, said the unidentified body was lifted from the car along the Idlib-Binnish road east of Idlib province. 

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U.S. Central Command said American forces had conducted a "kinetic counterterrorism strike" near Idlib province targeting a senior leader of the militant group al Qaeda.

"Initial indications are that we struck the individual we were aiming for, and there are no indications of civilian casualties as a result of the strike," said Navy Lt. Josie Lynne Lenny in a statement

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the vehicle had been carrying a militant linked to al Qaeda. 

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The U.S. has carried out attacks in Idlib before, targeting al Qaeda militants and the leader of the Islamic State group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was hiding in the province after fleeing from eastern Syria.

The Associated Press contributed to this report