U.S. President Joe Biden said on Thursday ISIS leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi has been killed in a rare U.S. commando raid overnight inside Syria.
U.S. special forces carried out what the Pentagon said was a large-scale counterterrorism raid in northwestern Syria earlier on Thursday, but no further details were immediately provided.
First responders and war monitors reported that 13 people had been killed, including six children and four women.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett congratulated the U.S. and the American soldiers on a "daring operation," and said that "the world is a safer place now that the ISIS leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi has been killed."
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Al-Qurayshi set off a bomb that killed himself and members of his family, including women and children, a senior U.S. administration official told Reuters on Thursday.
Biden said that the ISIS leader's choice to "blow himself up" was "cowardly." U.S. officials also added that American forces successfully removed civilians from the apartment building before the suicide bomb was detonated. Al-Qurayshi's wife and children were among those killed, officials said.
The operation, which residents say lasted over two hours, jolted the sleepy village of Atmeh near the Turkish border – an area dotted with camps for internally displaced people from Syria's civil war.
“The mission was successful,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in a brief statement. “There were no U.S. casualties. More information will be provided as it becomes available.”
It was the largest raid in the province since the 2019 Trump-era U.S. assault that killed the Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Little is publicly known about al-Qurashi, who has led the extremist group since the death of al-Baghdadi.
U.S. President Joe Biden said that he will deliver a full address on the mission on Thursday morning.
Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin, former head of Israel’s Military Intelligence Directorate, and a senior fellow at Harvard University’s Belfer Center, said that the successful assassination attempt shows that “the U.S. has downgraded the importance of the Middle East in its worldview, but it has not completely cut it off. American forces, intelligence and operational abilities allow the U.S. to act when important interests are threatened.”
Yadlin called the operation “a targeted operation that can improve the United State’s problematic image following the withdrawal from Afghanistan and give President Biden a boost in his main struggle in the Russia-Ukraine crisis.”
“With that, it is important to note that when it comes to Iran, the U.S. is very restrained – it does not act militarily, even when forces are attacked by Iranian proxies, in order to facilitate the renewal of the nuclear deal in Vienna,” Yadlin added.
Reuters contributed to this report.