Turkish forces in Syria have killed the leader of the Islamic terror group ISIS, Abu Hussein al-Qurashi. Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Sunday that the group’s chief had been “neutralised” as part of a Turkish intelligence operation that took place on Saturday.
The operation involved targeting an abandoned farm that was being used as an Islamic school in Jindires, a town in northern Syria, about four miles from the Turkish border. Turkish forces allegedly stormed the house and clashed with ISIS fighters, eventually surrounding al-Qurashi, who then blew himself up with explosives strapped to his body.
The news of al-Qurashi’s killing by Turkish forces comes at a crucial time for Erdogan, who faces a tough battle to secure another election victory after more than 20 years in power. Opposition parties have united behind an alternative candidate, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, who appears to have the edge in the latest opinion polls.
Erdogan has been facing pressure from the devastation of twin earthquakes that left over 500,000 dead and surging inflation.
ISIS was at its height in 2014 when it occupied roughly one-third of Syria and Iraq, which sparked a major humanitarian crisis and waves of terror attacks around the world. The terror group now controls only small pockets of land in the rural hinterlands of Syria’s east after being driven out of much of its former territory.
The last remaining ISIS militants still launch sporadic attacks in the war-weary nation. Al-Qurashi became the fourth leader of ISIS in November, when the group announced the death of his predecessor, Abu al-Hasan al-Hashmi al-Qurayshi, who was killed fighting in Syria. The founder of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was killed by American forces in October 2019.