Biden says US raid in Syria killed ISIS leader

He said he would have more to say later Thursday morning.

President Joe Biden said on Thursday that a US raid in Syria killed the Islamic State leader.

“Last night, under my direction, U.S. military forces in northwest Syria conducted a successful counterterrorism operation to protect the American people and our allies, and to make the world a safer place,” he said. in a press release.

“Thanks to the skill and bravery of our armed forces, we removed Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, the leader of the Islamic State, from the battlefield. All Americans returned safe and sound from the operation “I will make remarks to the American people later this morning. God protect our troops,” he said.

The White House tweeted a photo it said showed Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris in the Situation Room watching the raid unfold.

Earlier, the Pentagon confirmed on Wednesday that US special operations forces carried out what it called a “successful” counterterrorism mission in northwest Syria, but provided few other details.

“U.S. Special Operations Forces under the control of U.S. Central Command conducted a counterterrorism mission in northwestern Syria tonight. The mission was a success. There were no U.S. casualties,” he said. Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in a statement. “More information will be provided as it becomes available.”

One of the helicopters used in the mission suffered a mechanical problem and then had to be blasted to the ground by US forces, according to a US official.

No details were provided on whether it involved ground troops and helicopters, as was claimed in a flurry of social media reports from Syria on Wednesday evening.

The opposition-led Syrian Civil Defence, first responders also known as the White Helmets, said 13 civilians had been killed as a result of fighting and explosions at the raid site, including six children and four wives.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based war monitoring group, said in a press release that nine people, including at least two children and a woman, were killed in the Wednesday mission. The group cited local sources.

A US official told ABC News the reported civilian casualties were not the result of US military fire, but occurred when the target of the raid detonated an explosive device early in the operation.

Social media posts have reported possible US military activity in Idlib province, a city in the far west of Syria near the border with Turkey. Some posts included videos that appeared to show night scenes where the sounds of gunfire and low-flying helicopters could be heard near the towns of Atmeh and Dar Ballout.

According to an Associated Press reporter on assignment who visited the Atmeh area on Thursday and spoke with residents, the US raid involved helicopters, explosions and machine gun fire.

According to the AP, the journalist and several residents said they saw body parts around a house targeted by the raid whose upper floor was almost completely razed, leaving rubble in the surrounding olive grove.

The approximately 1,000 US troops in Syria are operating in eastern Syria to support the mission against ISIS.

US troops are not operating in government-held areas in northwestern Syria, particularly in Idlib province, which was a haven for extremists for much of the past decade. But they have sporadically carried out counterterrorism missions in Idlib, targeting various Islamic extremist groups with drone strikes.

The most publicized mission was a ground raid that killed ISIS Supreme Leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was hiding in a house near the border with Turkey, on October 27, 2019.

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