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Leader of Terrorist Cell Plotting Attacks Against the US Killed in Drone Strike

Leader of Terrorist Cell Plotting Attacks Against the US Killed in Drone Strike

By ERIC SCHMITT and SCOTT SHANE for The New York Times

A military airstrike in northwest Syria has killed the leader of a shadowy Qaeda cell that American officials say has been plotting attacks against the United States and Europe, the Pentagon announced on Sunday.

The leader, Sanafi al-Nasr, a Saudi citizen, was the highest-ranking leader of a network of about two dozen veteran Qaeda operatives called the Khorasan Group, and the fifth senior member of the group to be killed in the past four months. His death was announced in a Pentagon statement describing Thursday’s operation, which American officials said was a drone strike.

The American use of drones, as opposed to piloted aircraft, to carry out such strikes may reduce the stakes of any inadvertent confrontation with Russian planes over Syria. For nearly three weeks, Russia has carried out strikes in support of the embattled Syrian leader, Bashar al-Assad, including some that have killed American-trained Syrian rebels. But last week’s successful drone strike is not expected to resolve a continuing policy debate over the long-term success of targeting individual terrorist leaders.

The dead Khorasan leader, whose full name was Abdul Mohsen Abdallah Ibrahim al Charekh, was a longtime militant experienced in funneling money and fighters for Al Qaeda, said Peter Cook, the Pentagon press secretary.

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