Killing Of ISIS Chief Marks Biggest Breakthrough For US Since Elimination Of Al-Baghdadi

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The elimination of ISIS chief Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi marks the biggest breakthrough that the United States achieved in its fight against global terrorism, since the killing of his predecessor Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi more than two years ago.

Al-Qurayshi's death was similar to the terrorist tactic of al-Baghdadi, who killed himself by detonating a suicide vest during a US military raid in Syria in October 2019 under presidential order.

After months of planning, U.S. Special Operations commandos, backed by helicopter gunships, drones and jets, attacked the hideout of the terrorist chief in Atmeh, a town close to the border with Turkey in rebel-held Idlib Province.

The White House said U.S. forces took all precautions to minimize civilian casualties, but ISIS once again revealed its barbarity.

An administration official said al-Qurayshi seemed to purposefully live in a residential building, with families on the first floor that had nothing to do with ISIS and did not know who was living on the third floor.

In the earliest stages of the U.S. military operation Wednesday night, a family on the first floor — one woman, one man, and a number of children — were safely removed from the site.

After resisting for nearly two hours, al-Qurayshi detonated a significant blast killing himself and several others, including his wife and children.

The blast was so large, on the third floor, that it blew bodies outside of the house and into the surrounding areas.

An associate of al-Qurayshi and his wife engaged the assault force in the second floor. They were killed in the course of the operation.

In an address to the nation, President Joe Biden commended the dedicated intelligence community, the Department of Defense, and members of the national security team, whose meticulous and tireless work over the course of many months ensured that this mission succeeded.

Biden also mentioned the important role of this mission by the Syrian Democratic Forces. He said the US defense department will continue to work with them, as well as the Iraqi Security Forces, including the Kurdish Peshmerga, and more than 80 members of the global coalition, to keep pressure on ISIS.

"Last night's operation took a major terrorist leader off the battlefield. And it sent a strong message to terrorists around the world: We will come after you and find you," Biden said.

Al-Qurayshi's death delivers a catastrophic blow to ISIS and shows that the United States will take out terrorist threats no matter where they try to hide in the world, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said at a briefing aboard Air Force One en route New York.

A notorious militant known as "the Destroyer," Qurayshi coordinated the group's global terror operations.

He was a driving force behind the genocide of the Yazidi religious minority in northwestern Iraq in 2014 and the enslavement of thousands of young Yazidi girls, using rape as a weapon of war.

He oversaw the network that included ISIS branches around the world, from Africa to Afghanistan.

Qurayshi was directly overseeing activities of ISIS across Iraq and Syria, which were seeking to reconstitute under his leadership.

The militant was responsible for the recent attack on a prison in northeast Syria holding ISIS fighters, which was foiled by the Syrian Democratic Forces.

US State Department had offered a $10 million reward for information about the 45-year-old Iraqi terrorist leader.

Looking ahead, the terrorist threats that the United States face today are more ideologically diverse and geographically diffuse than 20 years ago. Groups such as ISIS and al Qaeda have expanded across Africa and Southeast Asia. These global networks and affiliates still aspire to attack the United States.

The White House said that despite years of sustained counterterrorism operations, pressure has forced them to shift their operating models and constrain their capabilities, but the threat remains serious.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said that a thorough review of the military operation and after-action report will take place with more details possibly coming in the days ahead.

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