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The leader of IS has been killed during a raid by US Special Forces in Syria.
Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi was confirmed as one of 13 killed during a two-hour gun battle in the Syrian region of Idlib.
During a press conference this afternoon, February 3, President Joe Biden confirmed that al-Qurayshi died after he detonated an explosive device during the raid, also killing his wife and two children.
It’s understood that a number of other women and children were also among those killed in the raid, which took place overnight on Wednesday, February 2.
In a statement, Biden said:
Last night at my direction, U.S. military forces in the northwest Syria successfully undertook a counterterrorism operation to protect the American people and our Allies, and make the world a safer place.
Thanks to the skill and bravery of our Armed Forces, we have taken off the battlefield Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi—the leader of ISIS.
The operation was reportedly conducted by US Central Command, which controls military activity in the Middle East. ‘All Americans have returned safely from the operation,’ Biden confirmed.
CNN reports that locals witnessed shelling and explosions, as well as machine-gun fire from three helicopters flying overhead, with airdropped US forces targetting a house in Atme – a town to the north of Idlib near the Syrian-Turkish border.
The Pentagon had previously confirmed a ‘successful’ mission in the area, but did not reveal the target of the operation. The White Helmets – Syria’s volunteer civil defence group – said that six children and four women were among those killed alongside al-Qurayshi.
US forces have carried out a number of operations targeting high profile jihadists in the Idlib region in recent months, The Guardian reports. The area is the last rebel stronghold in Syria opposing President Bashar al-Assad, and is understood to be governed by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), a group led by forces formerly affiliated with Al-Qaida in Syria.
It’s reported that the overnight raid marks the largest-scale US operation in Idlib since the 2019 mission that killed the former leader of IS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
News of al-Qurayshi’s death comes three months after the US confirmed its forces had killed senior Al-Qaida leader Abdul Hamid al-Matar in an airstrike in the Raqqa region of Syria.
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