US forces kill Islamic State leader « Khabarhub
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US forces kill Islamic State leader

03 February 2022  

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WASHINGTON: The leader of the Islamic State terror group is dead, killed by U.S. special operation forces in a raid in northwestern Syria.

U.S. President Joe Biden confirmed in a statement early Thursday the death of Amir Muhammad Sa’id Abdal-Rahman al-Mawla, also known as Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi.

“Last night at my direction, U.S. 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, crediting “the skill and bravery of our Armed Forces.” “All Americans have returned safely from the operation,” he added.

Reports of a major U.S. counterterrorism operation first began to emerge on social media late Wednesday, with accounts describing helicopters and U.S. forces descending on a house in the region between Idlib and Aleppo provinces in Syria’s northwest. Some accounts described U.S. forces using loudspeakers to get civilians out of the building before an intense firefight erupted.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Thursday at least 13 people had been killed in the operation, including three women and four children.

U.S. officials have yet to respond to the allegation of civilian casualties, but in a statement issued early Thursday, the military praised the mission. “U.S. Special Operations forces under the control of U.S. Central Command conducted a counterterrorism mission this evening in northwest Syria,” Pentagon press Secretary John Kirby said in a statement. “The mission was successful.”

Al-Mawla took control of IS in November 2019, shortly after U.S. special forces killed former leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, also in a raid in northwestern Syria.

IS media officials quickly sought to build support for al-Mawla, posting a stream of photos and videos showing the terror group’s various affiliates pledging allegiance to the new emir. But unlike Baghdadi, who made rare but periodic appearances, al-Mawla was much more reclusive to evade the same fate as his predecessor.

One United Nations counterterrorism report last year noted, al-Mawla “remains reluctant to communicate directly with supporters.” Still, it is not entirely surprising U.S. forces tracked al-Mawla to northwestern Syria, which traditionally has been a hub for groups affiliated with al-Qaida, IS’ main rival.

Western counterterrorism officials and U.N. member state intelligence agencies have long warned Idlib, in particular, “remains a strategic location for [IS] fighters and family members, in particular as a gateway to Turkey.” And in March 2020, the commander of U.S. Central Command, General Kenneth “Frank” McKenzie, said there are “remnants of ISIS” in Idlib “that do entertain attack plans against us.”

The death of al-Mawla could be a pivotal blow to IS, which has until now proven to be resilient in the face of major setbacks.

This past October, Iraqi forces arrested Sami Jasim Muhammad al-Jaburi, also known as Hajji Hamid, described by the Pentagon as “one of ISIS’s most senior leaders.”

One Western counterterrorism official, speaking to VOA on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence, called al-Jaburi’s arrest “very significant” as Al-Jaburi was seen as a candidate to potentially replace al-Mawla should he be killed or captured. (VOA News)

Publish Date : 03 February 2022 21:05 PM

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