The leader of the Islamic State jihadist group, Abu al-Hassan al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, was killed by rebels in southern Syria, the US military’s Central Command (CENTCOM) said on Wednesday.
His death, which had earlier been announced by the terrorist group, "is another blow to ISIS,” CENTCOM said in a statement.
“This operation was carried out in mid-October by the Free Syrian Army in the Daraa province of Syria,” CENTCOM said. it warned that ISIS “remains a threat to the region," and added that “CENTCOM and our partners remain focused on the enduring defeat of ISIS.”
New ISIS 'caliph' appointed
ISIS had announced earlier on Wednesday that al-Quraysi had been killed “fighting the enemies of God,” but did not say where or in what circumstances. In an audio message, the jihadi group’s spokesman, Abu Omar al-Muhajir, also announced that a new “caliph of Muslims,” Abu al-Hussein al-Husseini al-Qurachi, had been appointed.
The name Al-Qurayshi refers to the tribe of the Prophet Mohammed, of which the self-proclaimed “caliph” must be a descendant.
After a meteoric rise to power in 2014 in Iraq and Syria, and the conquest of vast territories, ISIS saw its self-proclaimed “caliphate” overthrown by successive offensives in the two countries, in 2017 and 2019 respectively. Since then, the organisation has been destabilised several times by the death or capture of its leaders.
Its first leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi al-Qurayshi, was killed in a US raid in 2019 in Syria while his successor, Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, was eliminated in February in an operation by US special forces in the northwest of the country.