Middle East

US drone raid in NW Syria kills 17 civilians, militants

US military forces have reportedly killed 17 militants and civilians in a drone strike in northwest Syria near the Turkish border, identifying the targets as leaders of an al-Qaeda-linked group.

“US Forces conducted a strike against a group of al-Qaeda in Syria (AQ-S) senior leaders meeting near Idlib, Syria,” said the spokeswoman for the US Central Command (CENTCOM), Maj. Beth Riordan, as cited in an AFP report on Saturday.

“The removal of these AQ-S leaders will disrupt the terrorist organization’s ability to further plot and carry out global attacks threatening US citizens, our partners and innocent civilians,” Riordan claimed in a statement.

Although the CENTCOM spokeswoman did not specify the number of those killed in the unauthorized intrusion and assassination strike in Syria, the UK-based group, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said at least five civilians were among those killed in the US drone attack.

The Western-backed group, believed to have links within Takfiri terrorist groups fighting since 2011 to overthrow the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad, further explained that that the drone strike targeted “a dinner meeting of Jihadists in the village of Jakara in the Salqin area” that killed at least 17, “including 11 leaders,” according to the report.

The term “jihadist” is a term invented by Western media and government agencies to falsely refer to radical militants engaged in terrorist acts in the name of Islam, although most of them have actually been directly or indirectly recruited, financed and supplied by Western countries and their client Arab dictatorships.

The village lies in Syria’s last major territory held by Western- and Saudi-sponsored terrorist groups in Idlib province, dominated by the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) group, led by a former al-Qaeda affiliate – al-Nusra Front — and its terrorist allies.

However, other terrorist groups, including the rival al-Qaeda affiliate, Hurras al-Deen faction, are also present and active in the area.

The report further cited SOHR chief Rami Abdel Rahman as claiming that five non-Syrian terrorists were among those killed in the US drone attack, but added that their nationalities were not immediately known.

“They had been invited to dinner in a tent on a farm in Jakara,” he further stated.

“It was a meeting of leaders opposed to HTS and who reject the Russia-Turkish deals” that led to a fragile truce in Idlib, he also claimed, noting: “Some were close to Hurras al-Deen.”

He was referring to a March agreement between Ankara – which sponsors numerous terrorist groups inside Syria — and Moscow that prevented a Syrian military offensive against terrorist forces remaining in Idlib province and operating in populated areas holding nearly three million people.

Drone raid was response to killing of Islamophobic French teacher

Meanwhile, the report further revealed that the US drone attack came after French officials claimed that the 18-year-old accused of killing a school teacher in France last week for propagating offensive cartoons of Islam’s Prophet Mohammed in his classroom had been in contact with a Russian-speaking militant in Syria.

Citing “a source close to the case,” it also claimed that the identity of the Russian-speaking militant was not yet known, though French daily Le Parisien alleged that the person’s IP address was traced to Idlib.

Invading US military forces are also present in eastern Syria, supporting Kurdish-led terrorists affiliated with the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and also engaged in looting Syria’s oil reserves out of the war-torn Arab country.

The development came days after SDF militants released hundreds of inmates arrested on suspicion of collaborating with Daesh Takfiri terrorist group during their terror campaigns in Syria and Iraq in recent years.

The 631 detainees were freed on last week from the Alaya detention facility on the outskirts of Qamishli city, located 680 kilometers northeast of the capital Damascus.

The US has long been providing the SDF with arms and militant training, calling them a key partner in the purported fight against Daesh.

Many observers and experts, however, regard the US sponsorship of SDF forces in the context of Washington’s plot to cement its foothold in Syria in a bid to steal the country’s crude oil reserves.

The US looting of Syrian oil was first confirmed during a Senate hearing exchange between South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in late July.

On July 30 and during his testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Pompeo confirmed for the first time that an American oil company would begin work in the northeastern Syria, which is controlled by SDF terrorists.

The Syrian government has denounced in the strongest terms the agreement inked to plunder the Arab country’s natural resources, including Syrian oil and gas, under the sponsorship and support of the administration of US President Donald Trump.

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