US-led airstrikes kill seven Al Qaeda affiliates in Syria

Damascus, July 9 (IANS) At least seven militants of the Al Qaida-linked Nusra Front were killed in airstrikes by the US-led anti-terror coalition in northwestern Syria, a monitor group reported on Thursday.

The international coalition carried out at least five airstrikes overnight, some of which targeted a vehicle of one of the Nusra commanders on the road between the towns of Sarmada and Kafr-Daryan in the countryside of the northwestern province of Idlib, much of which have fallen to the Nusra Front over the past few months.

Activists posted online video footage that purported to show the burnt vehicle of the Nusra commander, with his charred body inside the vehicle.

Several other Nusra positions were hit during the strikes in the northwestern countryside of Idlib as well, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Nusra Front snatched a Christian pastor in northern Idlib, the report said, adding the clergyman’s whereabouts remain unknown.

The US coalition started their strikes against the Islamic State (IS) militants and other ultra-radical groups in Syria late last September.

The Nusra Front and like-minded groups launched a wide-scale offensive against Idlib last March, stripping government forces of much of that key province near Turkey, Xinhua news agency reported.

They also aimed to establish their own version of an Islamic “caliphate”, akin to what their rival extremist group, the Islamic State, did when it captured the entire city of al-Raqqa in northern Syria and declared it their de facto capital.

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