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Rare 'US strike' kills Syria's Fatah al-Sham leaders

The group re-branded after breaking away from al-Qaeda [AFP]

Date of publication: 3 January, 2017

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A suspected US airstrike in Syria has killed senior members of Fatah al-Sham in Idlib province despite a ceasefire being in place with US-led coalition believed to be responsible.

A suspected US air strike has killed around 25 members of Fatah al-Sham, a former al-Qaeda affiliated group based in Idlib province.

Senior figures from Fatah al-Sham are believed to have been killed in the strike, with the group exluded from a natonwide ceasefire.

The militant group alleged that a US B52 carried out the strike, a rare target for Washington which seldom targets the former al-Qaeda linked group and one of the few strikes by the country in rebel-held Idlib province.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told AFP that leading members of Fatah al-Sham - formerly known as al-Nusra Front - were killed in the raid, but did not mention if the group's leader Abu Mohammed al-Jolani.

"More than 20 martyrs after the crusader [US-led] coalition targeted a central base in the north Idlib countryside," the group said.

An AFP correspondent said several strikes took place in the Idlib area, including one on a Fatah al-Sham checkpoint.

The strike follows a Russian-Turkish brokered ceasefire, which exempts Fatah al-Sham and the Islamic State group.

Syrian rebels say the exclusion of the former group allows the regime and Russia to continue air raids on rebel-held areas, where Fatah al-Sham have a presence.

UN Security Council dubs the former al-Qaeda affiliate a "terrorist" organisations.

In November the Pentagon said a US drone strike killed a senior al-Qaeda leader in the same area.

Agencies contributed to this story.

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