ISIS leader killed in U.S. operation

By Ivy lewis, Staff Writer
The U.S. military led an operation to kill Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, the leader of ISIS. President Joe Biden and the Pentagon apologized for the civilians killed in the explosion, including the deaths of six children.
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Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, the leader of terrorist group the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), died after a U.S. raid in Northern Syria. He reportedly ended his life by detonating a bomb that resulted in his death and the death of several family members.

The U.S. raid also killed a top deputy of al-Qurayshi, according to U.S. officials. 

“As our troops approached to capture the terrorist, in a final act of desperate cowardice, he chose to blow himself up rather than face justice for the… crimes he has committed,” President Joe Biden said.

The raid also resulted in 13 fatalities, including civilians. There were no U.S. casualties reported.

UNICEF has confirmed that at least six children were killed during the raid, which lasted roughly two hours. The raid took place in the town of Atma, located in Northern Syria.

Witnesses described the scene at the house and reported hearing sounds of gunfire. Mahmoud al-Sheikh, a civilian worker, reported that he heard a soldier say: “Children and women, leave. We are entering the house,” before the violence began.

The initial Pentagon report specified that eight children were evacuated and two were killed in the explosion triggered by al-Qurayshi, while accounts by first responders indicate that six children and four women were found dead.

The Pentagon has stated that they are willing to review the information and make corrections to the civilian death count. It is unclear whether the children were killed as a result of gunfire or the explosion that resulted in al-Qurayshi’s death.

Security of Defense Lloyd Austin commented on the civilian casualties in a written statement.

“The Department takes seriously our commitment to avoid civilian harm in the course of our operations. This operation was specifically designed and conducted in a manner to minimize civilian casualties,” Austin said.

Brett McGurk, the White House’s coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, stated that the raid went according to plan.

The special forces operation was intended to capture and question al-Qurayshi, who was operating out of his family home as a base. The compound contained a large amount of information on the plans and strategies of ISIS.

“Our forces on the site took a lot of information from the compound, and that will be analyzed by our professionals and will surely lead to other leads,” he said.

He acknowledged that there was a technical issue which led to the controlled destruction of a U.S. helicopter. The White House has not confirmed how many people were involved in the raid’s execution.

Al-Qurayshi was a former member of ISIS’s predecessor organization, al-Qaeda. He rose through the ranks of ISIS before assuming his position as leader following the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was killed in a U.S. raid in 2019.

Al-Qurayshi played an instrumental role in the slave trade of religious minority Yazidi women in the region and is reported to have engaged in numerous war crimes against civilians. 

Before his death, he was facing potential criminal liability for crimes against humanity, ethnic genocide and human trafficking.

Austin noted that the raid was a “serious blow” to ISIS but acknowledged that ISIS was not yet a neutralized threat.

“The fight against ISIS continues. Their leader may be gone, but their twisted ideology and their intent to kill, maim and terrorize still threatens our national security and the lives of countless innocents,” Austin said.