AL QAEDA’S Syrian leader has been killed, leaving the group floundering as they attempt to gain territory from the Government, rebels and ISIS.
A photo of Al Masri with a severe head wound has been posted on social media
Images of his body with a bloody gash to his head are circulating online as the group said he was killed during a battle with President Assad’s forces.
His death is said to be “a devastating blow” for the group’s operations in Syria, where a vicious civil war has killed tens of thousands of civilians and fighters since March 2011.
Al Masri, whose real name is thought to be Mahmud Maghwari, was an Egyptian who had been sentenced to death in Egypt for fighting with Hamas in Gaza before he joined al-Nusra.
He only had one thumb and a few fingers after they had to be amputated due to serious damage from fighting.
Al Masri was pictured moment before his death
At least 28 ISIS fighters and 21 troops and militia have been killed in the battle, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
On Friday the jihadists cut off the highway from the rest of government territory in Aleppo’s west.
More skirmishes to the south of the city have left at least 16 rebels dead, the Observatory said.
The group’s recruitment arm targets ordinary Muslims and is considered to be just behind Islamic State (ISIS) in the power stakes within the country.
It has a reputation for honesty and discipline which it used to its advantage to gain key areas in rebel-head parts of Aleppo when the uprising started.
Al-Nusra Front fighters protesting in Aleppo this week
In September Ayman al-Zawahiri, who replaced Osama bin Laden as the head of al-Qaeda,declared war on ISIS’ leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, saying they “don’t recognise this caliphate”.
However, al-Zawahiri, who has a £16.3 million US bounty on his head, added: “Despite the big mistakes of ISIS, if I were in Iraq or Syria I would cooperate with them in killing the crusaders and secularists and Shia even though I don’t recognise the legitimacy of their state, because the matter is bigger than that.”
Al-Nusra fighters brandish their flag in Aleppo