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‘This horrible terrorist leader is no more,’ Biden says after ISIS leader killed in U.S. raid

Video shows the aftermath of a U.S. military raid in Syria on Feb. 3, which killed ISIS leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi and at least 13 people. (Video: Alexa Juliana Ard/AP)

President Biden declared that “this horrible terrorist leader is no more” as he spoke to the nation Thursday about a U.S. Special Operations counterterrorism mission in which Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, the leader of the Islamic State militant group, was killed.

“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 from the White House.

Thirteen people, including children, died during the overnight raid on an Islamic State safe house in northwestern Syria, local first responders said. No U.S. casualties were reported in the operation, but U.S. forces did destroy one of their helicopters after it became disabled. Biden said civilian casualties were caused when Qurayshi detonated a huge explosion that killed members of his family. The Pentagon confirmed at least three civilian deaths.

Here’s what to know

  • In a statement earlier Thursday, Biden praised “the skill and bravery of our Armed Forces” and said that “all Americans have returned safely from the operation.” During his remarks, Biden also credited the Syrian Democratic Forces for aiding the operation.
  • The operation occurred days after the Islamic State showed that it’s still a threat, overrunning a prison in northeastern Syria. Thursday marked the second time a U.S. operation targeted a head of the extremist group in Syria’s rebel-held Idlib province.
  • In October 2019, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, then the Islamic State’s leader, died during a raid on his military compound after detonating a suicide belt.