The senior US sources declared that the leader of the Islamic State (IS) group was killed in an overnight US special operations raid in northwestern Syria.
“We have taken Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi off the battlefield thanks to the expertise and valour of our armed troops,” President Joe Biden remarked.
According to administration officials, Qurayshi detonated a bomb that killed him and members of his own family.
After the raid, Syrian first responders stated they discovered the dead of 13 people.
ANALYSIS: Why was it so important for the US to get an IS chief?
Around midnight on Thursday, several US helicopters reportedly landed on the outskirts of the opposition-held town of Atmeh, which is located in northern Idlib province and near to the Turkish border (22:00 GMT on Wednesday).
President Biden, Vice President Harris and members of the President’s national security team observe the counterterrorism operation responsible for removing from the battlefield Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi — the leader of ISIS. pic.twitter.com/uhK75WeUme
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) February 3, 2022
According to local sources, the troops encountered tough resistance on the ground and were targeted by large anti-aircraft guns mounted on vehicles.
Before the helicopters left, gunfire and shelling could be heard for two hours.
According to the New York Times, one helicopter was abandoned following a mechanical failure, and it was later destroyed in a US air strike. The wreckage has been photographed and uploaded to the internet.
Locals in the #Atmeh area say [U.S.] SOF forces have closed the #Atmeh-Dayr Balut road & have fired on several vehicles approaching them.
Locals also claim 1+ RPG & a round of anti-aircraft gun fire has targeted [U.S.] SOF personnel on the ground — allegedly causing casualties.
— Charles Lister (@Charles_Lister) February 2, 2022
President Biden stated that all Americans involved in the operation were safe and that it will “defend the American people and our friends, as well as making the world a better place.”
Blood-splattered walls, torn window frames, scorched ceilings, and a partially collapsed roof, according to an AFP news agency correspondent who saw a two-story residence that appeared to be targeted in the attack.
The Syrian Civil Defence, also known as the White Helmets, stated in a statement that its first responders arrived at the building at 03:15 and recovered the dead of 13 people, including six children and four women.
According to the organisation, they also discovered an injured girl whose other family members were killed in the attack. She was rushed to the hospital with a man who was injured when he approached the building to check what was going on during the fighting, according to the report.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, headquartered in the United Kingdom, reported the death toll at 13, but added that four children and three women were among those slain.
“At the start of the operation, the terrorist target triggered a device that killed him and members of his own family, including women and children,” a senior US official told Reuters.
“While we are still evaluating the outcomes of this operation,” he continued, “this appears to be the same cowardly terrorist technique we witnessed in the 2019 operation that eliminated al-Baghdadi.”
In October 2019, Qurayshi’s predecessor, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, killed himself and three children by detonating an explosive vest during a US special forces operation on a hideaway approximately 16 kilometres (10 miles) from Atmeh.
Judicial organisations and Turkish-backed rebel factions are strongholds in northwestern Syria, and they are ardent enemies of IS.