US expands Syria air-strikes; Israel downs fighter

The US-led coalition carried out air-strikes against both ISIS and Nusra Front positions in Syria on Sept. 23. At the same time, US planes took unilateral action against the so-called "Khorasan Group" of ex-Qaeda members "to disrupt the imminent attack plotting against the United States and Western interests," as a Central Command statement put it. The statement provided no details on the plotting. The Khorasan Group targets were said to be near Aleppo. Reports indicate the group is led by Muhsin al-Fadhli, a Qaeda operative who was supposedly privy to Osama bin Laden's 9-11 plans prior to the attack. The US State Department calls al-Fadhli a "senior facilitator and financier" for al-Qaeda. (Times of IsraelMJ) Meanwhile, the Israeli military shot down a Syrian MiG-21 fighter jet that it said had infiltrated it airspace over the Golan Heights. The wreckage fell on the Syrian-controlled side of the plateau. (Al Jazeera)

A Syrian rebel group that has reportedly received weapons from the US criticized the air-strikes. The Hazm Movement, in a statement posted to Twitter, called the strikes "an attack on national sovereignty that undermines the Syrian revolution." It added: "The sole beneficiary of this foreign interference in Syria is the Assad regime, especially in the absence of any real strategy to topple him." The Hazm Movement is among a small number of rebel groups reported to have received US weapons earlier this year, and was among those cited by US Secretary of State John Kerry last week as likely to receive US arms and training in the coming months. (AFP)