American fighter jets carried out a series of airstrikes in northwestern Syria on Thursday that sought to kill leaders of a Qaeda-linked militant cell that is plotting attacks on the West, American officials said.

American intelligence assessments call the group Khorasan and say it could pose a more immediate threat to the United States and Europe than the Islamic State, which has seized territory on both sides of the Iraq-Syria border.

While a United States-led coalition has frequently bombed the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, it had not targeted Khorasan since hitting its bases with a barrage of cruise missiles at the start of its campaign in Syria on Sept. 23.

Of greatest interest to the United States government is Muhsin al-Fadhli, a Kuwaiti who is said to have founded Khorasan in Syria and was a senior Qaeda operative close to Osama bin Laden.

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