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CENTCOM confirms drone strike targeted Al-Qaeda leader in Syria

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The United States military conducted a drone strike in Syria targeting a senior al-Qaeda leader and planner, a CENTCOM spokesperson says.

“U.S. forces conducted a kinetic strike near Idlib, Syria, December 3, targeting a senior al-Qaeda leader and planner,” CENTCOM spokesperson Captain Bill Urban told Fox News Digital in a statement. “The strike was conducted using a precision strike method from MQ-9 aircraft.”

Syria’s Bashar Assad
(AP)

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Urban added that an “initial review of this strike indicates the potential for possible civilian casualties.”

“We abhor the loss of innocent life and take all possible measures to prevent them. The possibility of a civilian casualty was immediately self-reported to U.S. Central Command. We are initiating a full investigation of the allegations and will release the results when appropriate,” Urban added.

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File photo - Airman 1st Class Andrew Frano, an MQ-9 Crew Chief, at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., Dec. 19, 2016. (U.S. Air Force photo by J.M. Eddins Jr.)

File photo – Airman 1st Class Andrew Frano, an MQ-9 Crew Chief, at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., Dec. 19, 2016. (U.S. Air Force photo by J.M. Eddins Jr.)

CENTCOM says it will reveal the results of the strike “when appropriate.”

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Fox News Digital.

News of the strike comes days after Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin ordered a renewed investigation into a 2019 airstrike in Syria that resulted in the deaths of civilians after the attack was first reported in detail by the New York Times earlier this month.

U.S. Army Forces commander Gen. Michael Garrett has been assigned to conduct the investigation, which will review “reports of investigation already conducted” while also conducting “further inquiry into the facts and circumstances” of the strike, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said Monday.

President Joe Biden points to the Oval Office of the White House as he arrives on Marine One on the South Lawn in Washington, Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021, as he returns from Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

President Joe Biden points to the Oval Office of the White House as he arrives on Marine One on the South Lawn in Washington, Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021, as he returns from Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

The investigation stems from a March 2019 strike on ISIS in Baghouz, Syria, in support of U.S.-allied Syrian Democratic Forces, who called for air support after they were attacked by ISIS fighters.

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While the Syrian fighters, U.S. special operations forces operating in the area, and an unmanned aerial vehicle overhead flying above the battlefield reported no civilians in the area where the strike was to be carried out, later reports from a UAV operator said there may have been civilians in the area where bombs were dropped.

The New York Times report last month details that there were mostly women and children in the area the bombs were dropped, possibly resulting in the deaths of 70 civilians.

Fox News’ Michael Lee contributed to this report

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