More details have emerged on the raid by U.S. commandos resulted in the death of ISIS leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi on Thursday in northwestern Syria.
The Pentagon announced the successful mission in a short statement Thursday morning. “U.S. Special Operations forces under the control of U.S. Central Command conducted a counterterrorism mission this evening in northwest Syria. The mission was successful. There were no U.S. casualties,” press secretary John Kirby said.
The statement was followed up by one from President Joe Biden: “Last night at my direction, U.S. military forces in the northwest Syria successfully undertook a counterterrorism operation to protect the American people and our Allies, and make the world a safer place. 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. All Americans have returned safely from the operation.”
The raid took place around 1 a.m. in Syria when two or three helicopters landed and U.S. commandos surrounded a residential building in the area of Atmeh, the Middle East Institute’s Syria specialist Charles Lister told WSJ. U.S. troops used a loudspeaker to order women and children to leave the area.
The White Helmets, a Syrian civil-defense group, said that at least 13 people, including four women and six children, died in the raid. A U.S. official familiar with the events of the raid told The Wall Street Journal that the deaths were a result of al-Qurayshi detonating a suicide vest shortly after the raid began.
“At the beginning of the operation the terrorist target exploded a bomb that killed him and members of his own family, including women and children. While we are still assessing the results of this operation, this appears to be the same cowardly terrorist tactic we saw in the 2019 operation that eliminated [Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi],” the official said.
Al-Baghdadi died in 2019 during a U.S.-led raid after the Islamic State chief detonated a suicide vest.
“Both these terrorist leaders murdered their own families,” an official told NPR. “In this case, the blast was so large on the third floor that it blew bodies outside of the house and into the surrounding areas.”
“All casualties at the site were due to the acts of ISIS terrorists,” the official added.
The U.S. military has faced scrutiny and condemnation recently over 10 civilian deaths that resulted from a botched strike on a purported ISIS terrorist during the U.S. military’s withdrawal from Afghanistan. The U.S. had actually carried out an airstrike on an Afghan aid worker, killing the aid worker and at least seven children. The Pentagon admitted to the botched strike in September. As The Daily Wire reported:
In a shocking admission Friday, the Pentagon confirmed that a drone strike in Afghanistan, meant to target members of ISIS-K who planned a deadly attack on the United States military in the waning days of the Afghanistan War, killed 10 civilians in a “tragic mistake.”
“The Pentagon acknowledged on Friday that a U.S. drone strike in Afghanistan on Aug. 29 that officials said was necessary to prevent an attack on American troops was a tragic mistake that killed 10 civilians, including seven children, an American military official familiar with the investigation,” told The New York Times.