US strikes have killed a senior operative from Al-Qaeda’s Syrian branch in the war-torn country’s northern province of Aleppo, activists said on Sept. 24.
Ümit Yaşar Toprak, a 47-year-old Turkish fighter who was known in Syria as Abu Yusef al-Turki, was among 50 militants killed in strikes on Sept. 23 against what the United States called an Al-Qaeda cell that had been planning attacks on Western interests.
“Al-Nusra Front members are very sad today because of this death,” Ibrahim al-Idlibi, an activist in Idlib province in northwestern Syria, told AFP.
Toprak, a sniper, had arrived in Syria 18 months ago and fought regime troops in the central province of Hama and the coastal region of Latakia, as well as Idlib.
He had also trained Nusra’s elite snipers, he added.
Online, Nusra members and supporters expressed their condolences and anger about Toprak’s death, using the hashtag “the martyr Abu Yusef al-Turki”.
“He was the sixth best sniper in the world, and he trained 400 other snipers,” a supporter named Abu Mussab al-Assir tweeted.
“He never killed civilians, his war was against the criminal regime,” wrote another, Abu Anas al-Hamadani.
“Why did America and their henchmen murder him?” he asked.
Toprak’s death was even reported in Syria’s Al-Watan newspaper, close to the regime, which described him as “the most famous sniper in the world”.
The strikes on Sept. 23 hit an area on the border between Aleppo and Idlib provinces.
US Central Command, which oversees American forces in the Middle East, said the military action had been taken “to disrupt the imminent attack plotting against the United States and Western interests.”