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US kills ISIS leader in northwest Syria

ISIS leader elimination mission
Photo: White House

US Special Operations forces killed the leader of ISIS, Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, in a military operation in northwest Syria.

The US Defense Department was the first to confirm the operation in the evening hours of February 2, before US president Joe Biden provided more details.

According to a White House statement, the mission was a success, with no US casualties.

“Last night at my direction, US military forces in the northwest Syria successfully undertook a counterterrorism operation to protect the American people and our allies, and make the world a safer place,” president Biden said.

“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.”

The White House also shared a photo of president Biden and other officials observing the operation from Wednesday.

According to the Syria Civil Defense (The White Helmets), “at least 13 people, including 6 children and 4 women, were killed, and a girl and a person were injured in shelling and clashes following an airborne raid of US special forces.”

Unconfirmed reports said US forces had to blow up one of the helicopters used in the raid after it experienced a mechanical problem.

In another update on the operation, the Pentagon said al-Qurayshi detonated an explosive device during the firefight, killing himself and members of his family.

“Al-Qurayshi, also known as Hajii Abdullah, provided near-constant operational guidance to ISIS fighters, to include the prison break and attack at Hasakah and the slaughter of Yazidis in Iraq. He is now off the battlefield and out of command, and cannot threaten any more lives,” US Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III commented.

Austin further said the operation was specifically designed and conducted in a manner to minimize civilian casualties, adding that the department was aware of the deaths of women and children last night. “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,” Austin said.