We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

US military vehicles in Syria. File photo Alamy Stock Photo
islamic state

ISIS leader killed in US military raid in Syria, with multiple civilian fatalities

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says civilians are among at least 13 people killed in the operation, including four children.

LAST UPDATE | 3 Feb 2022

US PRESIDENT JOE Biden has said that the leader of the Islamic State group has been “taken off the battlefield” by US forces in Syria.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor say civilians are among at least 13 people killed in the operation.

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

“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. All Americans have returned safely from the operation,” Biden said.

Biden is scheduled to make public remarks today on the operation.

The operation, in which Kurdish forces also took part, was conducted in the Idlib region where his better-known predecessor Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed in similar raid in 2019.

Qurashi, who was also known as Amir Mohammed Said Abd al-Rahman al-Mawla, replaced Baghdadi after his death in a US raid in October 2019, had a reputation for brutality.

A senior US official said Qurashi detonated a bomb during a nighttime airborne raid by US special forces in northwestern Syria.

The bomb he detonated also killed members of his own family, including women and children, the official said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights’ chief, Rami Abdel Rahman, told AFP: “Thirteen people at least were killed, among them four children and three women, during the operation.”

AFP correspondents were able to visit a home on the outskirts of Atme which appeared to be one of the main targets of the US special forces.

A witness told AFP he woke to the sound of helicopters.

“Then we heard small explosions. Then we heard stronger explosions,” Abu Ali, a displaced Syrian living in Atme said, adding that US forces told residents “not to worry”.

“We’re just coming to this house… to rid you of the terrorists,” the man quoted the US forces as saying in their loudspeaker messages.

The American helicopters took off from a military base in the Kurdish-controlled city of Kobani, Abdel Rahman said.

Elite, US-trained members of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces joined the operation, he added.

Farhad Shami, who heads the media office of the US-backed SDF, said the operation targeted “the most dangerous international terrorists.”

Kurdish forces had also taken part in the raid against Baghdadi in 2019.

US special forces have carried out several operations against high-value jihadist targets in the Idlib area in recent months.

The area, the last enclave to actively oppose the government of Bashar al-Assad, is home to more than three million people and is dominated by jihadists.

The region is mostly administered by a body loyal to Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, a group led by former members of what was once Al-Qaeda’s franchise in Syria.

Atme is home to a huge camp for families displaced by the decade-old conflict and which experts have warned was being used by jihadists as a place to hide among civilians.

© AFP 2022