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Turkish intelligence 'neutralise' IS leader in Syria

Turkish intelligence 'neutralise' Islamic State leader in Syria
2 min read
01 May, 2023
Abu Hussein al-Qurashi had only been in the role for six months before he was 'neutralized'.
Residents reported a loud explosion during the night [Getty images]

Turkish intelligence forces killed the new Islamic State leader Abu Hussein al-Qurashi in Syria, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced.

"This individual was neutralized as part of an operation by the Turkish national intelligence organization in Syria yesterday," Erdogan said in an interview with TRT Turk broadcaster.

Erdogan said the intelligence organization had pursued al-Qurashi for a long time, and would now "push on to continue the fight against all terrorist elements, wherever they hide". 

Syrian local and security sources said the raid took place in the northern Syrian town of Jandaris, which is controlled by Turkey-backed rebel groups and was one of the worst-affected in the Feb. 6 earthquake that hit both Turkey and Syria.

al-Qurashi had detonated a suicide vest during the last moments of an operation, according to a source from the Syrian National Army speaking to al-Araby al-Jadeed on condition of anonymity. 

One resident said clashes started on the edge of Jandaris overnight from Saturday into Sunday, lasting for about an hour before residents heard a large explosion.

The area was later encircled by security forces to prevent anyone from approaching the area.

IS selected al-Qurashi as its leader in November 2022 after the previous IS leader was killed in an operation in southern Syria.

Islamic State took over vast swathes of Iraq and Syria in 2014, and its head at the time, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, declared an Islamic caliphate across territory that housed millions.

But IS lost its grip on the territory after campaigns by U.S.-backed forces in Syria and Iraq, as well as Syrian forces backed by Iran, Russia and various paramilitaries.

Its remaining thousands of militants have in recent years mostly hid out in remote hinterlands of both countries, though they are still capable of carrying out major hit-and-run attacks.

The U.S.-led coalition alongside a Kurdish-led alliance known as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) is still carrying out raids against IS officials in Syria.

In some cases, senior IS figures have been targeted while hiding out in areas where Turkey has major influence.

Reporting by Reuters contributed to this article