Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday that Turkish intelligence services had killed Islamic State leader Abu Hussein al-Qurashi in Syria.
“This person was neutralized yesterday as part of an operation by the Turkish National Intelligence Organization in Syria,” Erdogan said in an interview with TRT Turk TV station.
Erdogan said the intelligence organization had been pursuing Qurashi for a long time.
Syrian local and security sources said the airstrike took place in the northern Syrian town of Jandaris, which is controlled by Turkish-backed rebel groups and was one of the worst affected by the February 6 earthquake that hit both Turkey and Syria.
The Syrian National Army, an opposition faction with a security presence in the area, had no immediate comment.
One resident said the clashes began on the outskirts of Jandaris overnight from Saturday to Sunday and lasted for about an hour before residents heard a large explosion.
Presence of IS chose al-Qurashi as its leader
The area was later cordoned off by security forces to prevent anyone from approaching the area. IS chose al-Qurashi as its leader in November 2022 after the previous IS leader was killed in an operation in southern Syria.
The Islamic State took over large swathes of Iraq and Syria in 2014, and its then-leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared an Islamic caliphate across the territory, home to millions of people.
But IS has lost control of territory following campaigns by US-backed forces in Syria and Iraq, as well as Syrian forces backed by Iran, Russia and various paramilitaries.
Its remaining thousands of militants have mostly holed up in the remote hinterlands of both countries in recent years, though they are still capable of carrying out large-scale hit-and-run attacks.
A US-led coalition, along with a Kurdish-led alliance known as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), continues to carry out airstrikes against IS operatives in Syria. In some cases, senior IS officials have been targeted while hiding in areas where Turkey has strong influence.
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