Advertisement

Airstrikes hit new Syrian Islamist group

It was a diversion from the coalition's prior concentration on Islamic State targets.

By Ed Adamczyk
Airstrikes hit new Syrian Islamist group
Coalition airstikes target the Ahrar al Sham militant group for the first time. Matthew Bruch/USAF | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Nov. 6 (UPI) -- Overnight airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition in Syria hit the Islamist rebel group Ahrar al Sham for the first time.

One strike hit the group's Babsaqa headquarters, near the Syrian border with Turkey, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. It reported two children were killed and others injured, and witnesses reported a large explosion and a building destroyed.

Advertisement

Ahrar al Sham, a Sunni Muslim group, is not on the U.S. list of designated terrorist organizations and has not been a part in the conflict involving the Islamic State. Its members sometimes fight alongside the radical al-Nusra Front, but since much of Ahrar al Sham's leadership was killed in an explosion in September, U.S. officials are unsure of its current allegiance or motives.

Airstrikes against rebel militants in Syria -- regardless of their affiliation or their position as radical or moderate groups -- risk complicating relations with groups only interested in the downfall of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. They could draw the United States into the conflict between the government and militant groups with varied interests, the Washington Post noted.

Advertisement

Ahrar al Sham are seen by many Syrians as protectors and moderates, and the airstrikes could be regarded as U.S. attempts to support the Bashar regime.

A senior U.S. official said all airstrikes Thursday targeted the Khorasan group of militants, an extremist group tied to al-Qaida believed to be plotting attacks against Western targets. The move by the coalition is seen as a change in tactics; prior airstrikes have targeted Islamic State troops, equipment and headquarters exclusively.

RELATED U.S. airstrikes reportedly kill al-Qaida bomb-maker David Drugeon

Latest Headlines

Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us

Advertisement