Qaeda spokesman killed as Syria army pushes against IS

An image grab taken from an undated video released via Al-Nusra's official channel Al-Manara Al-Baydaa shows Abu Firas al-Suri, the spokesman for Al-Qaeda's Syrian affiliate, Al-Nusra Front, giving an interview at an undisclosed location. Suri, his son and 20 other jihadists were killed in air strikes on April 3, 2016 in the northeast of Syria, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. Suri was meeting with other leading Islamist fighters in a Nusra stronghold in Kafar Jales when the raids struck positions in Idlib province, the monitor said.  / AFP / Al-Manara Al-Baydaa / STRINGER / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO /AL-MANARA AL-BAYDAA / BYLINE" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS

Beirut / AFP

Air strikes have killed several Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Nusra Front members including its spokesman and regime forces have retaken a strategic town from the IS group in the latest setbacks for extremists in Syria.
Abu Firas Al Suri, whose real name was Radwan Nammous, fought against Soviet forces in Afghanistan where he met Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and the founding father of global ‘holy war’, Abdullah Azzam, before returning to Syria in 2011.
Suri was meeting with other leading extremist fighters in an Al-Nusra stronghold in Kafar Jales in northwestern Syria when the raids struck on Sunday.
He “was an old time Al Qaeda member … He was brought in from Yemen as an ideological counterweight” for rival extremist group IS, said Pieter Van Ostaeyen, a historian and monitor of extremist groups.
“His death indeed is a blow for Al-Nusra. However, that will not change a lot on the operational level,” he added.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Suri, his son and at least 20 extremists of Al Nusra and Jund Al Aqsa and other fighters from Uzbekistan were killed in strikes on positions in Idlib province.
Seven were high-ranking extremists, the Britain-based Observatory said, adding that the Syrian air force had likely carried out the strikes.
A temporary ceasefire between government forces and rebels has largely held since February 27, but it does not cover Al Nusra and IS. The break has, in fact, allowed Russia and the US-led coalition that has been bombing IS in Syria to concentrate on their fight against the extremists.

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