Mar 6, 3:40 AM EST

Al-Qaida's Syria branch confirms death of field commander

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BEIRUT (AP) -- Al-Qaida's Syrian affiliate is confirming that its top field commander has been killed in an airstrike.

A spokesman for the Nusra Front was quoted on a prominent militant website Friday as saying the group's "military commander" Abu Hommam al-Shami was killed a day earlier when an airstrike targeted a meeting in the western Syrian province of Idlib.

Syria's state news agency and Syrian activists abroad first reported the death on Thursday.

The website says three other people - two of them bodyguards for al-Shami - also died.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that several prominent Nusra leaders were killed.

It remained unclear who conducted the airstrike. Syria's SANA news agency claimed it was Syrian army while activists and Nusra said it was the U.S.-led coalition.

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