Al-Qaida Offshoot in Syria Confirms Death of Prominent Leader in U.S. Airstrike

Abu Firas al-Suri was a Syrian Army officer until the 80s and worked closely with Osama bin Laden.

Abu Firas al-Suri, a prominent leader of Nusra Front, is seen in this still image taken from video.

Al-Qaida's Syrian offshoot Nusra Front confirmed on Wednesday that their spokesman and veteran jihadist fighter Abu Firas al-Suri was killed in a U.S. airstrike in Syria.

In an online statement, Nusra Front said Abu Firas died in an attack on Sunday by an "Arab-crusader coalition" led by the United States, confirming an April 4 statement on his death by Al-Qaida's North African wing.

Abu Firas, a former Syrian army officer discharged in the late 1970s because of his Islamist leanings, fought in Afghanistan in the 1980s and worked with Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden to galvanize support for the fundamentalist Taliban movement, Islamist rebel sources said.

Abu Firas became a spokesman for the Nusra Front and was also a member of the group's policy-making Shura Council.

A Pentagon spokesman told Reuters on Monday that a U.S. airstrike on April 3 hit a meeting of high-level Al-Qaida officials in northwest Syria at which Abu Firas was present.

While the United States is part of a coalition of nations attacking Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, it has also launched separate strikes on the Nusra Front group, notably in the northwestern province of Idlib.