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Jihadists say al Qaeda veteran killed during assault on Shiite towns in Syria

Yesterday, we noted that the Jaysh al Fateh coalition in Syria has launched new operations targeting Bashar al Assad's forces in two Shiite towns in the Idlib province, Fua'a and Kafriyeh. The assault is tied to the Assad regime's attacks on Zabadani in southern Syria. A significant number of Sunni jihadists are reportedly under siege in Zabadani, and the Jaysh al Fateh coalition wants to pressure Iran and Syria into backing off by increasing the pressure on Fua'a and Kafriyeh.

Jihadists on social media report that a veteran al Qaeda operative has been killed during the fighting in Idlib. He is identified as Abu Hassan al Tunisi (the Tunisian). The authors of pro-al Qaeda Twitter feeds claim he was a companion of Osama bin Laden, spent time with al Qaeda in the Sudan (meaning in the early to mid-1990s), and survived the Battle of Tora Bora in late 2001. He allegedly went on to serve as a military trainer in Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda's official branch in Syria. A screen shot of some of the tweets purportedly offering details on Abu Hassan al Tunisi's career can be seen on the right.

Of course, the usual caveats apply. These details cannot be independently verified at this time. If and when a eulogy is issued, then we will probably learn more. In any event, this is hardly the first instance of jihadists on social media claiming that an al Qaeda veteran has been killed while fighting in Syria. And in at least some of those cases, the Twitter reports turned out to be basically accurate.

[Source: By Thomas Joscelyn, Threat Matrix, The Long War Journal, NJ, 19Sep15]

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