Abu al Khayr al-Masri, the No. 2 man for al Qaeda behind leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, has been killed by a missile strike in Idlib, Syria, according to multiple sources.
Two US officials said al-Masri was killed in an attack directed by the US intelligence community.
The UK-based activist group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, or SOHR, told CNN al-Masri was killed Sunday in a strike targeting his vehicle near al-Mastoumeh village in Idlib. Several Syrian opposition activists also reported al-Masri was killed by a missile strike.
Abdallah al-Muhaysini, a senior member of Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, acknowledged the death in a eulogy posted on his official Telegram channel. He said, “May Allah accept Abu al-Khayr in His heaven. May Allah gather us together with him.”
Al-Muhaysini is a prominent inner-leadership member of Jabhat Fath al-Sham, which used to be known as Al-Nusra Front – an al Qaeda affiliate. Al-Nusra Front in Syria split from al Qaeda last summer with the blessing of al Qaeda leader al-Zawahiri.
SOHR said al-Masri, whose real name was Abdullah Muhammad Rajab Abd al-Rahman and who was an Egyptian national, was in a car near al-Mastoumeh camp when the strike took place.
Syria Civil Defence in Idlib, also known as the White Helmets, reported the incident and posted pictures on its Facebook account. The group reported two people were killed in the strike without mentioning their names.
In 2005, Abdullah Muhammad Abd Al-Rahman was designated by the US Treasury Department as a terror supporter. The department said he was responsible for coordinating al Qaeda’s work with other terrorist organizations. In 2016 the UN Security Council put him, along with 81 others, on a sanctions list.
CNN’s Hamdi Alkhshali reported from Atlanta and Barbara Starr reported from Washington.