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A displacement camp near the village of Qah in Syria's northwestern Idlib province. Photo: Ahmad Al-Atrash/AFP via Getty Images

A U.S. airstrike in northwest Syria on Friday killed senior al-Qaeda leader Abdul Hamid al-Matar, U.S. Central Command said in a statement.

Why it matters: Syria serves as a "safe haven" for the extremist group to plan external operations, according to U.S. Army Maj. John Rigsbee.

What they're saying: "The removal of this al-Qaeda senior leader will disrupt the terrorist organization’s ability to further plot and carry out global attacks threatening U.S. citizens, our partners, and innocent civilians," Rigsbee said in the statement.

  • U.S. Central Command currently has "no indications of civilian casualties."
  • The strike was conducted using an MQ-9 aircraft.
  • "The U.S. will continue to target members of al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations who intend to harm the U.S. homeland," Rigsbee added.

The big picture: The airstrike comes days after two drone strikes and some rockets targeted a military outpost in southern Syria that houses U.S. and coalition troops, AP reports.

  • Officials called it a coordinated attack, though no American soldiers were injured or killed.
  • Central Command did not address the earlier attack in the Friday statement about al-Matar.

In a separate incident this week, a roadside bomb exploded near Syrian troops and killed at least 13 people in Damascus.

Worth noting: The Biden administration faced backlash earlier this year after the Pentagon admitted a U.S. drone strike in Afghanistan killed 10 civilians instead of an ISIS-K leader as initially claimed.

Go deeper

Pentagon to probe 2019 Syria strike after reports of dozens of civilian casualties

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on Nov. 20. Photo: Mazen Mahdi/AFP via Getty Images

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has ordered a new investigation into a 2019 U.S. airstrike that killed around 80 people, including dozens of women and children in Syria, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: The move comes after the Times reported this month that the Pentagon attempted to keep the strike and casualties under wraps, failing to investigate the decision behind it even after questions were raised internally.

Updated 25 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Congressional leaders clinch support for crucial defense bill, debt limit votes

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer passes waiting reporters on Tuesday. Photo: Eric Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Congress has found a shortcut to pass its annual defense funding bill and raise the debt limit.

Driving the news: The House voted Tuesday night on two major bills — one creating a one-time, fast-track process for the Senate to raise the debt ceiling with just 51 votes, and another passing its annual defense bill.

House passes annual defense bill

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The House voted to pass the annual defense bill 363-70 on Tuesday night, authorizing nearly $770 billion in funding for defenses and national security programs.

Why it matters: The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) still has to clear the Senate, but the House passage greatly increases the chances that the must-pass defense bill will move through both chambers of Congress before the end of the year.