ISIS Leader Killed During US Raid in Syria: US Officials

Zachary Stieber
By Zachary Stieber
February 3, 2022International

A raid by U.S. forces in Syria under the cover of darkness led to the death of the leader of the ISIS terrorist group, U.S. officials said on Feb. 3.

Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, the leader of ISIS since 2019, was the target of the operation in northwest Syria.

As U.S. special operations forces under the control of U.S. Central Command approached the building in Atmeh where the terrorist leader was, he committed suicide, U.S. officials said.

“Our team is still compiling the report, but we do know that as our troops approached to capture the terrorist, in a final act of desperate cowardness, he, with no regard to the lives of his own family or others in the building, chose to blow himself up,” President Joe Biden said in prepared remarks delivered in Washington.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the bombing “directly caused the deaths of women and children last night” and that the mission was designed and carried out in a manner aimed at minimizing civilian casualties.

“But, given the complexity of this mission, we will take a look at the possibility our actions may also have resulted in harm to innocent people,” he said.

Biden said he and other U.S. officials chose a raid over an airstrike in an attempt to minimize civilian casualties, describing al-Qurayshi as surrounding himself with families, including children.

First responders reported that 13 people had been killed, including six children and four women.

The U.S. forces landed in helicopters and assaulted the house in a rebel-held corner of Syria, clashing for two hours with gunmen, witnesses said. Residents described continuous gunfire and explosions that jolted the town, which sits near the Turkish border, an area dotted with camps for internally displaced people from Syria’s civil war.

Al-Qurayshi’s predecessor died during a U.S. raid in the same area in 2019.

Syria raid
Debris and rubble are seen in the aftermath of a counterterrorism mission conducted by the U.S. Special Operations Forces in Atmeh, Syria, on Feb. 3, 2022. (Courtesy of Mohamed Al-Daher via Reuters)
U.S. Syria raid
People check at a destroyed house after an operation by the U.S. military in the Syrian village of Atmeh, in Idlib province, Syria, on Feb. 3, 2022. (Ghaith Alsayed/AP Photo)

The house, surrounded by olive trees in fields outside Atmeh, was left with its top floor shattered and blood spattered inside.

Idlib is largely controlled by Turkish-backed fighters but is also an al-Qaida stronghold and home to several of its top operatives. Other militants, including extremists from the rival ISIS group, have also found refuge in the region.

“The first moments were terrifying; no one knew what was happening,” said Jamil el-Deddo, a resident of a nearby refugee camp. “We were worried it could be Syrian aircraft, which brought back memories of barrel bombs that used to be dropped on us,” he added, referring to crude explosives-filled containers used by President Bashar Assad’s forces against opponents during the Syrian conflict.

Since taking over ISIS, al-Qurayshi had overseen the rise of ISIS-linked terrorist groups around the world, U.S. officials say. He was also said to be behind attacks that wiped out Yazidi villages in Iraq in 2014.

Biden, along with Vice President Kamala Harris and senior national security aides, monitored a live feed of the operation from the White House Situation Room, according to an official. The White House posted a picture of the group observing the operation.

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the operation was a deliverance on the promise Biden made in 2021 that the ISIS leaders responsible for the deaths of 13 American troops in Kabul, Afghanistan, would pay.

“Our troops protect us every day and we owe them thanks,” he said in a statement.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

From The Epoch Times

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