Washington-Leader of the Islamic State President Biden said an explosive device killed himself and four members of his family during a nighttime raid by US Special Operations forces in northwest Syria.
The mission, which White House officials described as a success, eliminated a major terrorist leader in the Middle East, officials said pose a threat for the American homeland. The mission also awarded Mr. Biden a foreign policy victory amid a An alarming crisis in Ukraine And internal problems at home.
In a speech at the White House, Mr. Biden said he ordered the raid killed Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi early Thursday.
“Last night’s operation removed a major terrorist leader from the battlefield, and sent a powerful message to terrorists around the world: We will go after you and find you,” Biden said. He said the US forces returned safely.
The mission in northwest Syria along the Turkish border involved Apache helicopters, air strikes and drones and lasted about two hours, according to US officials and social media accounts. Reports said that among the victims were women and children.
Soon after the special operators descended and approached the multi-storey building, Qureshi, who was living on the third floor with his family, detonated an explosive device, killing himself and his family, US officials said.
“In one last act of desperate cowardice, regardless of the lives of his family or others in the building, he chose to blow himself up — not just the jacket, but blow up that third floor — rather than face justice for the crimes he committed,” Biden said.
Officials said Naqib Qureshi, who lived on the second floor, barricaded himself and his wife and engaged US forces in an attempt to repel an attack.
Officials said they could not calculate the number of dead at the scene and did not say how they identified Qureshi. The officials said that a US helicopter suffered a mechanical failure during the operation and was ejected from the site before being destroyed a short distance away, without causing any loss of life among the Americans.
They said that most of the dead were the result of Qureshi detonating explosives they believed to be an explosive vest. They said the explosion was so powerful that some of the bodies were blown up outside the house.
Mr. Biden said every precaution was taken to minimize civilian casualties.
“Knowing that this terrorist has chosen to surround himself with families, including children, we have made the choice to pursue a Special Forces raid with a much greater risk to our people than to be targeted by an air strike. We have made this choice to minimize civilian casualties.”
At least six children were killed and a girl was seriously injured during the night in the border town of Atma due to extreme violence, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
Rescue workers, who arrived at the scene minutes after US forces left, said they retrieved the bodies of 13 people, including six children and four women, from the house and the surrounding area, according to the White Helmets group for Syria Civil Defense. The group said it was not clear how they died.
“There was a lot of blood that’s why the details [of the deaths] It wasn’t very clear but there was an explosion in place. “Whether it was because of the bombing or because of something that was manipulated to detonate it, it is hard to tell,” said Raed Al-Saleh, head of the White Helmets.
Residents said the raid began in the early morning. “We were woken up at one o’clock in the morning to the sounds of warplanes and helicopters,” said Adnan Abu Muhammad, who lives close to the site of the attack. “They were flying very low on the ground. The clashes continued until three in the morning.”
The location of the reported raid, a building, is about 15 miles from the Syrian village in Idlib where Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is.
He passed away in October 2019 During a US-led raid when he blew himself up with an explosive vest.
The Islamic State chose Qureshi as its leader shortly after al-Baghdadi’s death.
Prior to his death, al-Baghdadi had urged his supporters to release imprisoned Islamic State members and use them to inflate their ranks. Qureshi Follow the instructions of his ancestors: In the weeks leading up to his death, 200 Islamic State fighters overran a prison guarded by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces in northeastern Syria and were able to temporarily release their comrades.
Although the attack was defeated and the jailbreak thwarted, the attack appeared The continued spread of the Islamic State throughout Syria.
Officials said Thursday’s mission had been scheduled for several months and was briefed on Mr. Biden in December. Officials said the president monitored the operation in real time in the White House Situation Room, along with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley.
Officials said the operation was delayed for several days due to weather conditions.
Administration officials said in a briefing to the media that military officials used a table top model of the building to plan the mission, and that their research included determining whether the building would collapse in the event that Qureshi detonated an explosive vest.
Charles Lister, a Syria specialist at the Middle East Institute, said the raid began when two or three helicopters landed in the Atma area – where several camps for internally displaced people are located – and surrounded an apartment building. He said that US forces had asked the women and children using a megaphone to evacuate the building.
The area of northwest Syria where the raid took place is nominally under the control of Turkey, but the actual force is Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, a jihadist group and former offshoot of al-Qaeda, which is now hostile to both al-Qaeda and its adversary. Islamic country. Mr. Lister said that al-Qaeda accused the jihadist group of helping to facilitate US drone strikes against its own members.
Experts said it is difficult for the United States to ignore the region, given the groups operating there.
“It’s a part of Syria where extremist groups are mixed with other elements of the (Syrian) opposition,” said Andrew Tabler, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and a former State Department official. “It shows that no matter how much Syria gets out of the headlines, the problems remain.”
Tabler said the Atma area houses a military base that was once used by the Free Syrian Army and other groups opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. It has a rugged terrain and is adjacent to the Turkish border.
The raid and reports of unidentified killings come less than a week after the Pentagon issued revised rules aimed at reducing the number of innocents killed when the US military conducts such operations. Mr. Austin issued a new directive designed to reduce civilian casualties as part of an overhaul of Army policy and practice.
The US military has come under increased scrutiny in recent months for not doing more to avoid killing civilians during operations. Last year, the Pentagon was forced to admit that its air strike on a car in Kabul was a ‘tragic mistake’ kill 10 peopleAmong them are seven children. But the Pentagon No disciplinary action was taken against military officials involved in the erroneous attack, which the US military initially defended as a valid strike that killed people who were preparing to attack US forces in Afghanistan.
Nazih Osseiran from Beirut and Michael R. contributed to this article. Gordon.
Corrections and amplifications
The US State Department released an undated photo of Abu Ibrahim al-Hashemi al-Quraishi in 2020. A previous comment to the photo said the ministry incorrectly released the photo in 2000 (corrected February 3).
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