The White House released a statement on Thursday morning revealing a Wednesday raid killed the top leader of ISIS in Syria.
“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,” President Joe Biden said in the statement.
“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. I will deliver remarks to the American people later this morning. May God protect our troops,” the statement added.
Al-Mawla, as he was also known, assumed leadership of ISIS in 2019 after its previous leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was also killed during a U.S. raid in Syria authorized under then-President Donald Trump.
“U.S. special forces landed in helicopters and assaulted a house in a rebel-held corner of Syria, clashing for two hours with gunmen, witnesses said. Residents described continuous gunfire and explosions that jolted the town of Atmeh near the Turkish border, an area dotted with camps for internally displaced people from Syria’s civil war,” the Associated Press reported.
“First responders reported that 13 people had been killed, including six children and four women,” the report added.
The White House Twitter account also revealed the information during a Thursday morning post that showed Biden briefing with leaders on the issue.
“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,” the White House account wrote.
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
A senior U.S. administration official also told Reuters al-Quraishi was killed in the raid.
“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,” the administration official said.
“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 al-Baghdadi,” the official added.
Aerial photos of the scene showed the second level of the home destroyed from an explosion.
The leader of Islamic State was killed during a U.S. military operation in Syria, President Biden said https://t.co/jrl6LD0HcC
— The Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) February 3, 2022
“The special forces, in conjunction with other U.S. troops, raided a site in the Atmeh area in Syria’s Idlib province for more than two hours, reportedly resulting in several deaths and the destruction of some structures, according to witness accounts filtered through social media. U.S. troops exchanged fire with enemy forces on the ground, according to those social-media reports,” the Wall Street Journal reported.
The Pentagon released a brief statement earlier regarding the strike.
“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. More information will be provided as it becomes available,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in a statement.