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Coalition Airstrikes Kill Al-Qaida Leader In Syria, Pentagon Says

The Pentagon confirmed Sunday a U.S.-led coalition airstrike has killed a top al-Qaida commander in northwest Syria.

The U.S. military said Abdul Mohsen Adballah Ibrahim al Charekh, better known as Sanafi al-Nasr, was a Saudi national and the highest-ranking leader of the network that is sometimes called the Khorasan Group.

In a statement, Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook described him as a specialist who had deep knowledge of how to move funds and fighters for the terrorist organization.

"Al-Nasr was a long-time jihadist experienced in funneling money and fighters for al-Qaeda. He moved funds from donors in the Gulf region into Iraq and then to al-Qaeda leaders from Pakistan to Syria. "He organized and maintained routes for new recruits to travel from Pakistan to Syria through Turkey in addition to helping al-Qaeda's external operations in the West. Al-Nasr previously worked for al-Qaeda's Iran-based facilitation network. In 2012 he took charge of al-Qaeda's core finances before relocating to Syria in 2013."

The U.S. military did not provide details on the specifics of Thursday's airstrikes that lead to Al-Nasr's death, citing security reasons. The Pentagon did say al-Nasr is the fifth senior Khorasan Group leader killed in the last four months.

The New York Times reports there is not a lot known about the Khorasan Group, but some intelligence officials say it "has emerged as the cell in Syria that may be the most intent on, and capable of, striking the United States or its Western allies" in a coordinated and organized terrorist attack.

"The United States will not relent in its mission to degrade, disrupt and destroy al-Qaeda and its remnants," Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said in a statement. "This operation deals a significant blow to the Khorasan Group's plans to attack the United States and our allies, and once again proves that those who seek to do us harm are not beyond our reach."

Last year there were reports from jihadists that al-Nasr had been killed in Syria during battle with forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad. Those reports proved to be untrue, perhaps circulated in an effort to allow him to recover from injuries sustained in battle, The Long War Journal suggests.

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