AMMAN/WASHINGTON: An Islamic State leader was killed on Thursday in a U.S. special forces raid in northern Syria when he detonated a bomb that killed him and his family, the U.S. government said.
Abu Ibrahim al-Hashemi al-Quraishi has led the group since the death of its founder, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi , Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was also killed when he detonated his explosives during a 2019 US raid.
“Thanks to the skill and bravery of our armed forces, we have taken off the battlefield…the leader of Daesh. All Americans have returned safely from the operation,” US President Joe Biden said in a statement.
Quraishi had remained largely in the shadows since succeeding Baghdadi who led the group at the height of its self-declared caliphate, when it controlled swathes of Syria and Iraq and ruled over millions of people.
Since its defeat on the battlefield nearly three years ago, the group has been waging insurgent attacks in Iraq and Syria.
A senior US administration official told Reuters Quraishi was killed in the raid.
“At the beginning of the operation the terrorist target exploded a bomb that killed him and members of his own family, including women and children,” the official said.
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby earlier described Thursday’s raid as a successful counterterrorism mission, saying there were no American casualties.
At least 13 people, including six children and four women, were killed in clashes and bombings that began after the attack, which targeted a house in the Atmeh area near the Turkish border, Syrian aid workers said.
US military procedures to guard against civilian casualties are currently under scrutiny following a high-profile mistaken drone strike in Afghanistan that the Pentagon initially hailed a success.
A number of militant groups with links to al Qaeda operate in northwestern Syria, the last major bastion of rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad in the decade-long Syrian war. Daesh leaders have also hidden out in the area.
During the raid, which began around midnight, the helicopter landed and heard heavy gunfire and explosions, residents said. The U.S. military used megaphones to warn women and children to leave the area, they said.