U.S. special forces carried out counterterrorism in Syria

February 4, 2022

U.S. special forces carried out counterterrorism in Syria

President Joe Biden heralded the success of a large-scale counterterrorism raid carried out by U.S. special forces in northwestern Syria that resulted in the death of the leader of the Islamic State militant group.

The leader of the Islamic State group blew himself up along with his family members as American forces raided his Syria hideout.

It is the second time in three years the United States has taken out a leader of the violent group that has been struggling for a resurgence with deadly attacks in the region.

The IS group at the height of its power controlled more than 40,000 square miles stretching from Syria to Iraq and ruled over 8 million people.

Its attacks in the region included a major assault last month to seize a prison in northwestern Syria holding at least 3,000 IS detainees.

What had happened there?

Thirteen people were killed in the raid. Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, who became the leader of ISIS in October 2019, blew himself up as American forces raided.

13 people died in the explosion – including six children and four women.

No U.S. casualties were reported. A helicopter from the U.S. was also destroyed in the attack due to a mechanical malfunction.

What Biden said about the successful raid in Syria

Biden spoke from the White House to announce that the operation had taken “a major terrorist leader off the battlefield,” saying the U.S. had chosen to use special forces in the operation in order to try to minimize civilian casualties.

“Thanks to the bravery of our troops, this horrible terrorist leader is no more,” Biden said from the Roosevelt Room.

“Knowing that terrorist had chosen to surround himself with families, including children, we made a choice to pursue a Special Forces raid at a much greater risk to our own people rather than targeting him with an airstrike.”

However, it is unclear whether al-Qurayshi’s death will break the group’s momentum.

How the U.S. raid unfolded?

About 50 U.S. special operations forces landed in helicopters and attacked a house in a rebel-held corner of Syria, clashing for two hours with gunmen.

“If you don’t leave, we have orders. We will fire missiles toward the house. There are drones overhead,” a man speaking with Iraqi dialect could be heard saying through a loudspeaker.

An audio was circulated on social media. An explosion shook the area later and knocked out much of the top floor.

U.S. says al-Qurayshi played a key role in targeting Iraq’s Yazidi religious minority

On March 18, 2020, the State Department listed al-Qurayshi as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist.

A few months later, the U.S. doubled its reward to $10 million for information leading to his identification or location.

The U.S. Treasury Department said al-Qurayshi helped drive and justify the abduction, slaughter, and trafficking of members of Iraq’s Yazidi religious minority.

Thousands of Yazidi men were killed from the group, and thousands of women taken as slaves in what rights groups say amounts to a crime of genocide.

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