Thursday, July 18, 2024

Amid Ukraine crisis, US Special Forces strike in Syria, killing new IS commander

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WASHINGTON: In a raid reminiscent of the strikes that killed Osama bin Laden and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, US Special Forces conducted a counter-terrorism mission in northwestern Syria killing Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, who had succeeded al-Baghdadi as the leader of ISIS.
There were no American casualties in the raid, the White House said, but thirteen people including women and children are reported to have died in the raid, many of them casualties from a suicide vest detonated by al-Qurayshi. A US chopper was also destroyed by US commandos after it malfunctioned.
“Last night at my direction, US military forces in 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,” President Joe Biden said in a statement on Thursday morning. He is expected to offer more details in an address to the nation later in the day.
A photograph released by the White House showed Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and members of the President’s national security team watching the counterterrorism operation in what appeared to be the White House Situation Room — the picture reminiscent of President Obama and his team watching the raid on the Abbotabad compound in Pakistan that killed Osama bin Laden. Pictures from the ground in Syria also showed a destroyed two-storied structure similar to the Abbotabad compound.
Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi is believed to have succeed Abu Bakr al- Baghdadi, who was killed in US Delta Force raid in 2019 during the Trump presidency. Reports from Syria said al-Qurayshi blew himself up with a suicide vest during the raid, taking with him members of his own family, including women and children. A Syrian civil defense group working in the area said there were six children and four women among the 13 bodies recovered so far.
The US raid, coming amid a growing crisis with Russia over Ukraine, suggested that Washington is not taking its eyes off the middle-east, the center of its terrorism- and energy-related security concerns.
Earlier this week, the Pentagon announced that it is deploying the missile destroyer USS Cole to support its ally UAE in its defence against Houthi militants backed by Iran. USS Cole was attacked in Aden in October 2000 by al Qaeda terrorists, resulting in the death of 17 US Navy personnel.

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