The latest round of U.S. airstrikes in Syria was directed at the Al-Qaeda offshoot known as the Khorasan group — and U.S. officials are claiming a key victory against them.
Officials say they believe the strikes killed David Drugeon, a 24-year-old French militant who was allegedly one of the Khorasan group's top bomb-makers. Fox News sources reported Drugeon was killed in a drone strike Wednesday in Syria's Idlib province.
Drugeon's been the subject of some speculation in the media ever since McClatchy published a story claiming he was a high-level defector from French intelligence agencies. Subsequent reports, especially from French media, have cast serious doubt on that claim.
But Drugeon was a key target for U.S. intelligence; he was part of the Khorasan group's leadership and was reportedly working on producing bombs that would evade airport screening.
Drugeon was one of the targets of the U.S.' first strike against the Khorasan group in late September. The U.S. fired 47 Tomahawk missiles at targets within the group, with inconclusive results. (Video via CNN)
In addition to targeting Drugeon, the U.S. struck four other targets in Syria; the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports those strikes hit members of the al-Nusra Front and Ahrar al-Sham movements.
The Guardian notes U.S. Central Command officially denied targeting those groups in Wednesday's strikes, since attacking those groups "risks alienating Syrian rebel groups who see Nusra as a valuable force against Assad. ... Several of Syria's relatively moderate rebel factions view the Obama administration as tacitly abandoning its stated goal of removing their main enemy, the Syrian president."
U.S. airstrikes have targeted the terrorist group ISIS in Iraq and Syria for four months. This is the second time the U.S. has intentionally struck militants unaffiliated with ISIS.
This video includes images from Getty Images.