Islamic State leader Quraishi 'blew himself up after being surrounded' by Free Syrian Army: sources
Islamic State (IS) militant leader Abu al-Hassan al-Hashemi al-Quraishi, who was killed in mid-October in Syria, blew himself up after he and his aides were surrounded by local fighters in the town of Jasem, fighters involved in the clash told Reuters.
The US military said on Wednesday he was killed in an operation carried out by the opposition Free Syrian Army (FSA) in northwestern Daraa province.
The southern Syrian province, which has long been an opposition stronghold was brought under the control of the Syrian regime in 2018 after a major Russian-backed offensive followed by a "reconciliation agreement"
Quraishi and his aides had been discovered in a secret hideout in a house, said the sources, who included FSA fighters, and relatives of comrades who died in clash, as well as residents of Jasem.
"The leader and a companion blew themselves up with suicide belts after our fighters succeeded in storming their hideout," said Salem al Horani a resident of Jasem and former fighter who participated in the siege of the three houses where the IS cell was discovered.
FSA fighters remained in the area after the regime's offensive and "reconciliation agreements", which stipulated that they hand over heavy weapons but allowed them to keep light arms.
Islamic State has selected Abu al-Hussein al-Husseini al-Quraishi as its new leader, said a spokesman for the group. He said Quraishi was killed while "fighting enemies of God", without elaborating.
Islamic State emerged from the chaos of the US invasion of neighbouring Iraq and took over vast swathes of Iraq and Syria in 2014. Former IS caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared an Islamic caliphate from a mosque in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul that year and proclaimed himself caliph of all Muslims.
Islamic State's brutal rule, during which it killed and executed thousands of people in the name of its narrow interpretation of Islam, came to an end in Mosul when Iraqi and international forces defeated the group there in 2017. It was territorially defeated in Syria in 2019
(Reuters and The New Arab Staff)