Abu Firas Al Suri

Al Qaeda’s North African branch has confirmed the death of a prominent leader of the network’s Syrian affiliate, Abu Firas al-Suri, in a U.S. air strike in Syria on Sunday.

A statement by al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb’s (AQIM) media wing posted online late on Tuesday paid tribute to Abu Firas and said a U.S. air raid killed him. The statement, dated April 4, appeared to be the first public confirmation by al Qaeda.

U.S. officials told Reuters on Monday the United States carried out an air strike that killed Abu Firas. He was a senior member of al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate the Nusra Front’s policy-making Shura Council.

A Pentagon spokesman said a U.S. air strike on Sunday hit a meeting of high-level al Qaeda officials in northwest Syria at which Abu Firas was present, and said the United States was still confirming whether Abu Firas had been killed.