Turkish Special Forces eliminates Islamic State leader


Abu al Hussein al Qurashi ended his six-month leadership of Islamic State by detonating a suicide vest after he refused to surrender during a raid by Turkish Special Forces in northwest Syria on Saturday.

Abu al Hussein al Qurashi was the third leader of ISIS killed by detonating an explosive vest during a raid since 2019.

Turkish security official stated that during the four-hour raid, which led by the Turkish National Intelligence Service, special forces stormed an outer fence, a back door and the walls of his hideout in a two-storey building near the town of Cenderes.

Turkish intelligence refused to comment on the report, however Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday that al Qurashi had been neutralized as part of an intelligence operation.

The official said that the intelligence service, which had been watching al Qurashi for a long time, carried out the covert operation after making sure that he would leave the site soon, adding that al Qurashi detonated his suicide vest when he realized that he would be arrested.

The official also stated that the Special Forces asked him to surrender, but he did not respond.

Like his predecessor in the leadership of the organization, al Qurashi did not make any public speech, which indicates the extent of the organization’s influence declining compared to his situation when its former leader, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, ascended the pulpit in a crowded mosque in Iraq in 2014 to declare himself caliph.

Abu al Hussein al Qurashi is the latest Islamic State leader who captured or killed in northwestern Syria, a small area controlled by opposing forces that include militant groups and Turkish-backed factions.

The region became the most important safe haven for the Islamic State in the Middle East after its defeat in Iraq in 2017 and in Syria in 2019, and its members and supporters infiltrated across the 600-kilometer-long Iraqi-Syrian border.

Iraqi intelligence cooperation with Türkiye played a major role in recent operations targeting senior leaders of the Islamic State, according to the official and another Iraqi intelligence official who follows the activities of senior leaders of the organization in Iraq, Syria and Türkiye.

After al Qurashi’s departure, analysts expect the Islamic State eventually will announce a new leader.

This will become the fourth leader in four years for the organization, whose operations have declined significantly in the regions in which it is located, especially the Middle East and Africa.

Meanwhile, the Islamic State did not confirm the killing of its leader or issue a comment in this regard.

ISIS militants continue to launch attacks, and a United Nations report published in February said the number of members and supporters of the organization is estimated at between 5,000 and 7,000 deployed in Syria and Iraq, about half of whom are fighters.

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