Drone strike kills at least one in north-western Syria

Rescue workers and war monitor say drone strike hit vehicle in rebel-controlled territory

A vehicle destroyed in what is believed to be a drone strike on the outskirts of Syria's rebel-held north-western city of Idlib. AFP
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A drone strike hit a vehicle travelling on a rural road in rebel-controlled north-western Syria on Monday, killing at least one person, rescue workers and a war monitor said.

The Civil Defence team, known as the White Helmets, said the unidentified body was lifted from the car along the Idlib-Binnish road east of Idlib province. The charred vehicle, split in the middle, lay on the side of the rural road.

Spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve Col Wayne Marotto said the coalition was not behind the attack.

But US Central Command said later that American forces had conducted a “kinetic counter-terrorism strike” near Idlib province against 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 the US Navy's Lt Josie Lynne Lenny in a statement. No additional details were released.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, based in Britain, said the vehicle was carrying a militant from one of the radical groups operating in the province. The Observatory did not identify the group but said it was linked to Al Qaeda.

The US has carried out attacks in Idlib before on Al Qaeda militants and the leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi, who was hiding in the province after fleeing from eastern Syria.

Large parts of Idlib and neighbouring Aleppo province remain in the hands of Syrian armed opposition groups, dominated by radicals including the once Al Qaeda-linked Hayat Tahrir Al Sham.

There are also more than four million civilians living in the area, most of them displaced from previous bouts of violence in Syria’s 10-year conflict. The Syrian government has vowed to restore its control over all territories, but a ceasefire negotiated last year in Idlib has tenaciously held.

This picture taken on September 20, 2021 shows a view of vehicle destroyed by what is believed to be a drone strike, on the northeastern outskirts of Syria's rebel-held northwestern city of Idlib. AFP
Updated: September 20, 2021, 10:06 PM