The Pakistani Taliban confirmed today that Qari Muhammad Yasin, a senior al Qaeda military commander, was killed along with three of his “companions” in a US drone strike on Mar. 19. The airstrike was carried out in Afghanistan’s eastern Paktika province. Yasin was a member of the Punjabi Taliban, which includes jihadists from various other Pakistani terrorist organizations who are aligned with al Qaeda.
Hay’at Tahrir al Sham (HTS), Ahrar al Sham, and the Free Syrian Army-affiliated Faylaq al Rahman launched a surprise offensive against Bashar al Assad’s regime in Damascus yesterday. HTS, an al Qaeda front group, has been stepping up its attacks in the Syrian capital in recent weeks.
The Islamic State’s Ninawa province has released a video highlighting its use of improvised weapons of war in the battle for Mosul, Iraq. The weapons include: vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs) with armor attached, modified drones, and a remote-controlled rocket launcher. Children or young adolescents used as “martyrdom” bombers are also featured in the propaganda production.
The US killed al Qaeda veteran Abu al Khayr al Masri in a drone strike in Idlib, Syria in late February. Masri was identified as al Qaeda’s “general deputy” in July 2016. He worked to unite Syrian rebel groups under a common banner.
ODNI released some information on counterterrorism raids as part of an effort to provide more transparency on these operations. US intelligence claims that between 2,372 to 2,581 combatants and between 64 to 116 civilians were killed in 473 strikes in areas outside of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria since President Obama took office.
“We remain committed to defeating AQAP and denying it safe haven regardless of its location,” CENTCOM said while announcing three previously undisclosed drone strikes.
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and Al Nusrah Front have jointly issued a eulogy for Mullah Mansour, the Taliban’s chief leader. Mansour was killed in an American drone strike on May 21.
According to jihadists on social media and press reports, a prominent AQAP commander named Jalal Bala’idi was killed in a US drone strike launched last night. Bala’idi’s death has not been confirmed. He has led AQAP’s forces in a number of key battles and once claimed that his group has trained “thousands” of Sunnis. In December, Bala’idi was seen congratulating his fighters after they overran the town of Jaar.