President Joe Biden announced on Thursday that a U.S. special forces raid in Syria resulted in the death of Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, the leader of ISIS. The Syrian Civil Defense said that 13 people were also killed, including six children and four women.
“The mission was successful,” Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said in a statement. “There were no U.S. casualties. More information will be provided as it becomes available.”
The Associated Press reported that “several residents said they saw body parts scattered near the site of the raid,” a house in the Idlib province of northwestern Syria, an al-Qaeda hotbed. The top floor of the house was reportedly destroyed completely, and blood could be seen on the walls and floor of what remained. The AP notes that the remaining structure included a bedroom with a children’s crib on the floor, and that a plastic children’s swing was hanging on one of the damaged walls.
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“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,” Biden said in a statement after the attack on Thursday morning, noting that all Americans involved in the raid made it out safely.
A senior administration official said that al-Qurayshi died at the beginning of the raid by exploding a bomb that killed himself and members of his family, according to The New York Times.
Syrian Civil Defense first responders said 13 people including six children and four women were killed in the raid. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also said 13 people were killed, and that four were children and two were women. A journalist who visited the site of the attack said he saw 12 bodies, according to the AP. The Pentagon did not provide any details about how many were killed.
“The first moments were terrifying, no one knew what was happening,” Jamil el-Deddo, a resident of a nearby refugee camp, told the AP. “We were worried it could be Syrian aircraft, which brought back memories of barrel bombs that used to be dropped on us.”
The raid — which according to the Times was carried about by two dozen commandos, helicopter gunships, armed drones, and fighter jets — was the biggest in Syria since the 2019 operation that killed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who preceded al-Qurayshi as the leader of ISIS. The military has been targeting al-Qaeda strongholds in northern Syria for months, and the raid on Thursday came just days after the U.S. supported a Kurdish militia trying to eradicate ISIS fighters from the Syrian city of Hasakah.
Biden is expected to address the public about the attack later on Thursday.
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