Prominent Qaeda figure killed in US drone strike in Syria


A senior Egyptian Al Qaeda figure fighting in Syria was killed in a US drone strike this week, the latest to be killed in such attacks in Syria, a Syrian opposition monitoring group and relatives said Friday.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Rifai Ahmad Taha was killed in a strike Tuesday in the northwestern Idlib province.

Before joining Al Qaeda, Taha was a top figure in Egypt’s notorious militant group Gamaa Islamiya, which massacred 58 foreign tourists in the ancient Egyptian city of Luxor in 1997. He was also allied with Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan.

The Observatory’s chief Rami Abdurrahman said several Al Qaeda members, including Taha, were killed in Tuesday’s strike.

He said one of the dead was identified as Abu Omar al-Masri – which is Arabic for Abu Omar the Egyptian – but that it was not clear if Taha was using that name. Taha was believed to be in his 60s.

In Egypt, a relative said that Taha’s wife and brother have received confirmation about his death. The relative spoke on condition of anonymity fearing reprisals.

In Washington, Department of Defense spokesman Matthew Allen said the US struck a vehicle killing several Al Qaeda militants. He added that officials are still assessing the strike.