The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on Monday confirmed Turkey’s claim of killing a suspected leader of the Islamic State (ISIS) in north Syria, adding that the man was under the protection of Turkish intelligence.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan shared news on a Turkish intelligence operation against Abu Hussein al-Qurayshi (Abu Husin al-Quraishi ), who took over ISIS in November after predecessor Abu al-Hassan al-Hashemi al-Qurayshi was killed by the Free Syrian Army rebel coalition.
“In fact, the ISIS figure Abu Husin al-Quraishi that Erdoğan referred to his killing, was stationed in a military post belonging to the Turkish-backed Ahrar al-Sharqiya mercenary group and was killed in Jindires, Afrin,” said Farad Shami, the head of the SDF’s media office, on Twitter.
“There is nothing new about this incident except for the end of a mission of an ISIS member that had long been protected by Turkish intelligence in occupied #Afrin,” Shami said, referring to the Kurdish-majority city in north Syria controlled by Turkey and Turkey-backed Syrian rebels since 2018.
“So I’ve seen those reports, and it’s not something I’m able to confirm at this moment. And I would let the Government of Turkey speak for – on this about more information,” said Vedant Patel, a deputy spokesperson of the US State Department on Monday, when asked about Turkey’s claims of killing the ISIS chief.
“Obviously, if it is in fact true, this would be welcome news. And as you know, the United States has been waging a campaign with our international partners to degrade ISIS, and we have had success and we’ll continue these efforts,” Patel said.
The People’s Protection Forces (YPG), the armed wing of the SDF, which Ankara sees as a terrorist group, forms the backbone of US-led coalition forces fighting against ISIS in Syria.
Following Erdoğan’s announcement, Turkey’s National Intelligence Agency (MİT) shared the details of what it called a four hour operation against the jihadist organisation’s latest so-called caliphate.
MİT claimed that it launched the operation on 29 April, after receiving intelligence that Abu Hussein al-Qurayshi was hiding in Jindires and was planning to change his location.
The suspected chief of ISIS reportedly activated the suicide vest he was wearing, when he was surrounded by Turkish forces in a building that included a covered underground bunker.