ISIS Leader Killed During US Special Operations Raid In Syria

The leader of the Islamic State (ISIS) group killed himself along with his wife and children when he detonated an explosive device during an overnight raid by U.S. special operations forces in northwestern Syria on Wednesday.

President Joe Biden first announced on Thursday that U.S. troops had killed Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi. Al-Qurayshi became ISIS’ senior leader in late 2019 after another U.S. special operations raid in Syria resulted in the death of the group’s former leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

“The members of our military are the solid steel backbone of this nation,” Biden said from the White House on Thursday. “Last night’s operation took a major terrorist leader off the battlefield and sent a strong message to terrorists around the world: We will come after you and find you.”

Prior to Biden’s announcement, the Pentagon had issued a statement saying that U.S. special operations forces had carried out a “counterterrorism mission” in northwest Syria.

Senior administration officials told reporters on Thursday that an unspecified number of civilians were killed when Al-Qurayshi set off an explosion while inside a residential building and when one of his lieutenants fought U.S. troops.

Reporters initially tweeted that Al-Qurashi exploded a suicide vest to kill himself and others, but Pentagon spokesman John Kirby was unable to say on Thursday what type of bomb Al-Qurashi may have used. Separately, Marine Gen. Kenneth McKenzie Jr, head of U.S. Central Command, said while speaking at the Middle East Institute that the device that Al-Qurashi is believed to have detonated created an explosion “which was more massive than would be expected from a suicide vest.”

Biden had directed the U.S. military to take every measure to minimize civilian casualties, so U.S forces launched the raid rather than an airstrike and American troops also told civilians inside the building where Al-Qurayshi was staying to leave, allowing several women and children on the building’s first floor to get to safety.

After the raid, a U.S. helicopter was forced to land due to mechanical issues and had to be de destroyed, said a senior administration official, who stressed that the aircraft was not shot down.

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