ISIS Leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi was killed following a U.S. operation in northwest Syria, President Biden announced on Thursday.
Biden said that the raid was carried out by U.S. Special Operations commandos in a risky pre-dawn attack. Rescue workers said women and children were among at least 13 people killed during the raid.
A senior White House official stated to Reuters that al-Qurashi set off a bomb that killed himself and members of his family during the operation.
Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, also known as Amir Muhammad Sa’id Abdal-Rahman al-Mawla, took over as head of the militant group on Oct. 31, 2019, just days after leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi died during a U.S. raid in the same area in Syria.
US had offered up to $10 million for information on ISIS leader
The U.S. Rewards for Justice Program was offering up to $10 million in exchange for information leading to al-Qurashi’s apprehension.
U.S. special forces landed in helicopters and besieged a house in a rebel-held corner of Syria, clashing for two hours with gunmen, witnesses said, according to an Associated Press report.
Residents described continuous gunfire and explosions that jolted the town of Atmeh near the Turkish border, an area dotted with camps for internally displaced people from Syria’s civil war.
A journalist for The Associated Press and several residents said they saw body parts scattered near the site of the raid, a house in Syria’s rebel-held Idlib province. Most residents, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, said the raid involved helicopters, explosions and machine-gun fire.
Largest US operation against ISIS since 2019
It was the largest raid in the province since the 2019 Trump-era U.S. assault that killed the Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
“Last night at my direction, U.S. military forces in northwest Syria successfully undertook a counterterrorism operation to protect the American people and our Allies, and make the world a safer place,” Biden said in the statement.
“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. All Americans have returned safely from the operation. I will deliver remarks to the American people later this morning. May God protect our troops.”
The operation came as ISIS has been trying for a resurgence, with a series of attacks in the region, including a 10-day assault late last month to seize a prison.
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