Syria: US raid kills Islamic State leader
President Biden said on Thursday that US Special Operations commandos killed the leader of the Islamic State in a risky pre-dawn raid in northwest Syria. Rescue workers said women and children were among at least 13 people killed during the raid.
Biden said in a statement that the terrorist leader, identified by the Islamic State as Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, was killed. A senior administration official said al-Qurayshi died at the beginning of the operation when he exploded a bomb that killed him and members of his own family, including women and children.
“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,” Biden said in a statement. “All Americans have returned safely from the operation.”
The helicopter-borne assault carried out by about two dozen American commandos, backed by helicopter gunships, armed Reaper drones and attack jets, resembled the raid in October 2019 in which Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the previous leader of the Islamic State, died when he detonated a suicide vest as US forces raided a hide-out not far from where Thursday’s operation took place.
The airborne raid came days after the end of the largest US combat involvement with the Islamic State since the end of the jihadists’ so-called caliphate three years ago. American forces backed a Kurdish-led militia in northeastern Syria as it fought for more than a week to oust IS fighters from a prison they had occupied in Hasaka.
Little is known about al-Qurayshi, who succeeded al-Baghdadi, or IS’s top command structure. But analysts said the death of the Islamic State leader was a significant blow to the terrorist group.
Video from the scene posted on social media showed people pulling the bodies of at least nine men, women and children from the rubble of the badly damaged house.
Syria Civil Defence, also known as the White Helmets, pulled bodies and survivors from the rubble after the airstrikes.
(New York Times News Service)