ISIS leader Quraishi kills himself during Syria raid, U.S. says


AMMAN/WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The leader of Islamic State died when he blew himself and members of the family up during a U.S. army raid in Syria, President Joe Biden mentioned on Thursday, dealing a blow to the jihadist group’s efforts to reorganize as a guerrilla drive after shedding massive swathes of territory.

Abu Ibrahim al-Hashemi al-Quraishi, had led Islamic State because the dying in 2019 of its founder Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was additionally killed when he detonated explosives during a raid by U.S. commandos.

As U.S. forces approached Quraishi in northwest Syria in a single day, he blew himself up additionally killing members of his family, together with ladies and youngsters, in keeping with Biden and U.S. officers.

The blast was so large it blew our bodies out of the three-storey constructing the place Quraishi was and into surrounding streets within the city of Atmeh, U.S. officers mentioned, blaming Islamic State for all civilian casualties.

“Thanks to the bravery of our troops, this horrible terrorist leader is not any extra,” Biden mentioned in remarks on the White House.

Neither Biden nor U.S. officers briefing reporters offered a dying toll, however Syrian rescue employees mentioned no less than 13 individuals have been killed, together with 4 ladies and 6 youngsters.

Quraishi’s dying is one other setback for Islamic State almost three years after its self-declared caliphate was dismantled and its fighters defeated by U.S. and Iraqi forces.

Since then, Islamic State, also called ISIS, has waged rebel assaults in Iraq and Syria. The most up-to-date was final month when its gunmen stormed a jail in northeastern Syria housing Islamic State suspects.

Quraishi, a 45-year-old Iraqi, had remained largely within the shadows since succeeding Baghdadi who led the group on the top of its energy, when it launched a lightning enlargement in 2014 that shocked the world. It took management of enormous areas of Syria and Iraq, ruling over tens of millions of individuals with a iron fist and provoking assaults within the West.

Biden and U.S. officers described Quraishi because the “driving drive” behind the 2014 genocide of minority Yazidis in northern Iraq, and mentioned he oversaw a community of Islamic State branches from Africa to Afghanistan.

“Last night time’s operation took a significant terrorist leader off the battlefield and has despatched a powerful message to terrorist world wide: We will come after you and discover you,” Biden mentioned.

The killing of Quraishi helps restore among the Biden administration’s international coverage credentials after it was broadly criticized for final 12 months’s messy withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan.

Residents in Atmeh, close to the Syrian-Turkish border, mentioned helicopters landed and heavy gunfire and explosions have been heard during the raid that started round midnight. U.S. forces used loud audio system to warn ladies and youngsters to depart the realm, they mentioned.

U.S. army procedures to protect in opposition to civilian casualties are underneath scrutiny following a high-profile mistaken drone strike in Afghanistan that the Pentagon initially hailed successful.


A video taken by a resident and seen by Reuters confirmed the our bodies of two apparently lifeless youngsters and a person within the rubble of a constructing on the location.

Other footage confirmed rescue employees loading what seemed to be a small physique wrapped in a white plastic sheet into an ambulance. Other physique luggage have been at the back of the automobile.

Using head torches, the employees regarded for stays by means of chunks of concrete, youngsters’s smooth toys and ladies’s clothes within the wreckage. A kitchen was blackened and burned, home windows hung from their frames and plastic utensils have been half melted.

Reuters couldn’t independently confirm the photographs.

A Syrian man who witnessed the raid mentioned he left his home after midnight and noticed plane within the sky.

“Ten minutes later we heard screams. ‘Surrender, the home is surrounded,'” he mentioned. “We heard fireplace. There was shelling from airplanes and machine weapons.”

Another witness mentioned he noticed a number of our bodies on the scene. “There was blood in every single place,” he advised Reuters. He mentioned one U.S. helicopter appeared to endure a mechanical failure and was blown up by the U.S. forces.

Local leaders, safety officers and residents in northern Iraq say Islamic State has been re-emerging as a lethal menace, aided by an absence of central management in lots of areas.

“Quraishi’s killing is a large deal and an enormous blow to ISIS as a result of ISIS by no means heard from this new leader,” Syria analyst Hassan Hassan mentioned. “I feel ISIS will proceed to be weak and underneath strain so long as the Americans are on the bottom in Iraq and Syria and concerned, as a result of the U.S. serves as ft on a spring: when you step off, it form of bounces again.”

Quraishi was hiding out in a area of Syria that’s residence to a number of militant teams together with an al Qaeda-affiliated faction whose leaders embody international fighters.

U.S. forces have for years used drones to focus on jihadists within the space, however Thursday’s operation seemed to be the most important by U.S. forces within the northwest because the raid that killed al-Baghdadi, mentioned Charles Lister, senior fellow with the Washington-based Middle East Institute.

Beyond Quraishi, who was as soon as held in U.S. custody, little is understood of the group’s prime ranges – partly as a result of it now operates in a secretive construction of autonomous native cells, fairly than the centralised administration of the ‘caliphate’.

The U.S.-led coalition preventing Islamic State mentioned in mid-2019, after the group’s battlefield defeat, that it retained 14,000 to 18,000 members, together with 3,000 foreigners, although exact numbers are as elusive because the group itself.

Analysts say many native fighters could have slipped again into regular life, able to re-emerge when the chance emerges.

“This is an organisation that has retained a major quantity of manpower,” mentioned Lister. “In phrases of kinetically working cells, I think about we’re speaking within the very low hundreds in each international locations collectively. But it is nearly inconceivable to measure.”

(Additional reporting by Timour Azhari in Beirut, Susan Heavey, Trevor Hunnicutt, Phil Stewart, Steve Holland and Humeyra Pamuk in Washington; Writing by Humeyra Pamuk, Dominic Evans and Alistair Bell; Editing by Angus MacSwan and Daniel Wallis)

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