The Turkish president announced that Turkish intelligence had killed the leader of the Islamic State, Abu Hussein al-Qurashi, in Syria.
“This person was neutralized as part of an operation carried out by the Turkish National Intelligence Service in Syria yesterday,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in an interview with TRT Turk on Sunday.
He said that the Mukhabarat had chased Qurashi for a long time.
Syrian local and security sources said that the raid took place in the town of Jenderes, in northern Syria, which is under the control of Turkish-backed opposition factions and was one of the most affected areas in the February 6 earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria.
The Syrian National Army, an opposition faction with a security presence in the area, did not immediately comment.
A spokesman for the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces said, “ISIS figure Abu Hussein al-Qurashi…was stationed at a military site belonging to the Turkish-backed mercenary group Ahrar al-Sharqiya and was killed in Jindires, Afrin.” A primarily Kurdish fighter alliance in northern Syria, indicating Turkish influence and control in Jenderes.
One of the residents said that the clashes broke out on the edge of Jenderes at night from Saturday to Sunday, and lasted for about an hour before residents heard a big explosion. Security forces later cordoned off the area to prevent anyone from approaching it.
Residents said that the operation targeted an abandoned farm used as an Islamic school.
ISIS chose al-Qurashi as its president in November 2022 after the previous leader was killed in an operation in southern Syria.
The Islamic State group seized swathes of Iraq and Syria in 2014, and its leader at the time, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, declared an Islamic caliphate across territory inhabited by millions.
But the group has lost its grip on the region after campaigns by US-backed forces in Syria and Iraq, as well as Syrian forces backed by Iran and Russia and various paramilitary factions.
The remaining thousands of militants have in recent years gone into hiding in the remote hinterland of both countries, although they are still capable of carrying out major hit-and-run attacks.
The US-led coalition, along with the Kurdish-led coalition known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, continues to conduct raids against ISIS officials in Syria.
The United States carried out a helicopter strike in northern Syria in the mid-April operation, saying that ISIS was planning attacks in Europe and the Middle East.
The US Central Command said that it had killed a senior leader of the group in the operation, describing him as Abd al-Hadi Mahmoud al-Haj Ali.
With AFP and Reuters
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