, 9 tweets, 11 min read Read on Twitter
Senior US officials have told me they'd only consider taking the risk of breaking #Russia's air-ban on NW #Syria on 2 conditions:

a) A senior AQ figure emerged as clear target
b) External attack plotting was detected.

I'd treat these "US strike" reports w. some caution for now.
According to well-placed sources in NW #Syria, Huras al-Din figures have on [at least] several occasions raised the importance of re-asserting attention on attacking the West from #Idlib/#Aleppo.

That's a very unpopular proposition, so raising it speaks volumes re. confidence.
Overnight, @CENTCOM confirmed yesterday's strike on #AlQaeda's Huras al-Din in western #Aleppo.

Their reasoning confirms one of the two conditions U.S. officials had previously told me they'd need to break #Russia's air ban over NW #Syria: "plotting external attacks..."
@CENTCOM #pt: That a US strike targeted #AlQaeda in NW #Syria for the first time in ~2yrs is a significant development (Why? See thread above).

Bear in mind also that U.S. intelligence now considers "Huras al-Din" (not #HTS) as #AlQaeda's #Syria affiliate - see:
@CENTCOM #pt: BUT, yesterday's development was more complex than simply a @CENTCOM strike against "Huras al-Din."

In fact, most of the #AlQaeda figures killed were recently expelled (& linked to those expelled) from the group for being 'too hardline' in refusing to assist #HTS in #Hama.
@CENTCOM Some locals have ID'd several #AlQaeda figures killed in the strike:

1. Abu Dhar al-Masri
2. Abu Yahya al-Jazairi
3. Abu Dujana al-Jazairi
4. Abu Omar al-Tunisi
5. Abu Fida al-Tunisi

Abu Dhar, Abu Yahya & Abu Omar led a rebellion against Huras al-Din leaders in recent weeks.
@CENTCOM This "rebellion" was driven by the root of #AlQaeda's 2-year bitter disagreement with #HTS:

- AQ loyalists have vehemently opposed the prospect of cooperation with groups (i.e. #HTS, #NLF etc.) linked to/dependent on/involved w. foreign govt (i.e. #Turkey) activities in #Syria.
@CENTCOM #pt: Abu Yahya al-Jazairi issued a fatwa a week ago forbidding #AlQaeda loyalists from contributing towards #HTS operations against the #Assad regime in N. #Hama, declaring them "haram"

That put him & others in conflict w. Huras al-Din leaders Abu Hamam al-Suri & Sami al-Oraydi.
@CENTCOM Soon thereafter, Abu Yahya & his supporters were exiled from Huras al-Din & Abu Hamam ordered a "cleansing" operation targeting his opponents.

It was this group of "extremist dissidents" that were meeting in al-Mohandiseen in western #Aleppo, when @CENTCOM missiles struck.
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