Unidentified drone kills Ahrar al-Sharqiya militant in Turkish-controlled Afrin
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A drone of unknown origin attacked a motorcycle in a village in northwest Syria’s Afrin.
The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) war monitor reported on Tuesday that the drone strike killed one and injured one in the Ghalatan (Khalta) village in Jenderies district in Afrin countryside, northwest of Aleppo.
Afrin has been under occupation by the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army (SNA) militia since March 2018.
The SOHR said the identity of the two men remains unknown.
A source in Afrin told Kurdistan 24 that two militants from the Ahrar al-Sharqiya group were killed in the drone attack.
In a tweet, Farhad Shami, the head of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) media center, said the two persons were affiliated with Ahrar al-Sharqiya.
“The two persons targeted by a drone in the occupied village of Khalta in Afrin are members of the so-called (Ahrar al-Sharqiya) mercenaries, one of them called Khaled al-Sayeeh from the Homs area, and he was affiliated with ISIS in Jarablus,” read the tweet.
Shami said al-Sayeeh was still affiliated with ISIS and recruited new militants for the group.
Later on Tuesday afternoon, the Pentagon confirmed two senior ISIS officials were targeted.
"Maher al-Agal, one of the top five ISIS leaders and the leader of ISIS in Syria, was killed in the strike. A senior ISIS official closely associated with Maher was seriously injured during the strike," the US Central Command Public Affairs said.
Last year, the US sanctioned Ahrar al-Sharqiya for integrating numerous former ISIS members into its ranks and for human rights violations against Kurds.
The Ahrar al-Sharqiya originated in Syria’s eastern Deir ez-Zor province. It was created by the Iraqi jihadist Abu Maria al-Qahtani after he split from the Nusra Front.
On June 27, the US also targeted and killed Abu Hamzah al Yemeni, a senior leader of the al-Qaeda-aligned Hurras al-Din group, in a drone strike.
In the past, senior ISIS leaders were assassinated by drone strikes or US military operations in areas under Turkish control, including Afrin.