Air raids believed to have been carried out by U.S.-led forces hit three makeshift oil refineries in northern Syria on Sunday as part of a campaign against Islamic State, a human rights group said.
The United States has been carrying out strikes in Iraq since Aug. 8 and in Syria, with the help of Arab allies, since Tuesday, with the aim of “degrading and destroying” the terrorists who have captured large areas of both countries.
President Barack Obama has been seeking to build a wide coalition to weaken Islamic State, which has killed thousands and beheaded at least three Westerners.
In a potential boost for the United States, a jihadist online account said the leader of an al-Qaida-linked group had been killed in a U.S. air strike in Syria, the SITE service said.
A U.S. official said on Sept. 24 that the United States believed Mohsin al-Fadhli, leader of the Khorasan group, had been killed in a strike a day earlier, but the Pentagon said later it was still investigating.
But in a tweet on Sept. 27, a jihadist offered condolences for the death of Fadhli, SITE, a U.S.-based organization that monitors terrorist groups online, said on Sunday.
In Washington, Tony Blinken, deputy White House national security adviser, said on Sunday that officials could not yet confirm the death.
U.S. officials have described Khorasan as a network of al-Qaida fighters with battlefield experience mostly in Pakistan and Afghanistan that is now working with al-Qaida’s Syrian affiliate, the Nusra Front.
The head of the Nusra Front said the air strikes would not eliminate Islamists in Syria and warned that the group’s supporters could attack inside Western countries.
In an audio message posted on jihadi forums, Abu Mohamad al-Golani urged European and U.S. citizens to denounce the strikes, which he said could trigger retaliation from Muslims.