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IS says leader Abu al-Hassan al-Qurayshi killed in battle



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BEIRUT — The leader of the Islamic State group, Abu al-Hassan al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, was killed in recent fighting, a spokesman for the group said in a video released Wednesday. He did not give more details.

Al-Qurayshi is the second IS leader to be killed this year at a time when the extremist group is trying to re-emerge with underground elements carrying out deadly attacks in Iraq and Syria. Its branch in Afghanistan also claims attacks have killed dozens of people in recent months.

The US military said al-Qurayshi was killed in mid-October and added that the operation was conducted by Syrian rebels in Syria’s southern Daraa province. It is not clear why the announcement was made on Wednesday, more than a month after al-Qurayshi was killed.

“ISIS remains a threat to the region,” said US Central Command. “CENTCOM and our partners remain focused on defeating ISIS for the long term.”

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war watchdog, reported in mid-October that Syrian rebels had previously reconciled with the government that had killed a group of IS fighters. in the village of Jassem in the southern province of Daraa.

The Observatory said it included a commander identified as an Iraqi citizen along with a Lebanese fighter and others, adding that one of the IS fighters detonated an explosive belt. which he wears during the clash.

Little is known about al-Qurayshi, who took over the leadership of the group after the death of his predecessor. Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshiduring a US air strike in February in northwestern Syria.

None of the al-Qurayshis are thought to be involved. Al-Qurayshi is not their real name but is derived from the Quraish, the name of the tribe to which the Prophet Muhammad of Islam belonged. IS claims its leaders are from this tribe and that “al-Qurayshi” serves as part of the IS leader’s guerrilla list.

The death marks a blow to the group that was defeated in Iraq in 2017 and in Syria two years later. The statement by IS spokesman Abu Omar al-Muhajer comes at a time when IS is trying to carry out deadly attacks in parts of Syria and Iraq, the extremists have claimed to have established a Islamic kingdom.

“He died fighting God’s enemies, killing several of them before being killed as a man on the battlefield,” al-Muhajer said.

Al-Muhajer said Abu al-Hussein al-Husseini al-Qurayshi has been appointed as the group’s new leader.

“He is one of the veteran fighters and one of the loyal sons of the Islamic State,” al-Muhajer said. Little is known about Abu al-Hussein al-Husseini al-Qurayshi.

Asked in Washington about al-Qurayshi’s death, a spokesman for the US National Security Council, John Kirby, said: “We certainly welcome the news of the death of another IS leader. . I do not have any additional operational details to provide at this time.”

Al-Qurayshi is the third leader to be killed since founder Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was hunted down by the Americans in a raid in the northwest in October 2019.

No one has claimed responsibility for the murder.

On Wednesday, a bomb exploded at a religious school in northern Afghanistan, killing at least 10 students, a Taliban official said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility but the IS branch in Afghanistan has waged an escalating campaign of violence since the Taliban took power in August 2021.

Earlier this month, IS fighters attacked an Iraqi army position in the northwestern province of Kirkuk, killing four soldiers.

The Islamic State group broke away from al-Qaida about a decade ago and eventually controlled much of northern and eastern Syria as well as northern and western Iraq. In 2014, extremists declared their so-called caliphate, attracting supporters from around the world.

In the years that followed, they claimed to have carried out attacks around the world that left hundreds dead and wounded before being attacked from different sides. The group has used social media to show the world its brutality, releasing videos of people being beheaded, drowned in tanks while locked in metal cages or burned alive after being killed. fuel injection.

In March 2019, US-backed Syrian fighters captured the last piece of land the extremists once held in Deir el-Zour province, eastern Syria, which borders Iraq. Since then, IS fighters have carried out sporadic attacks.

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