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Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Turkish forces killed IS chief in Syria

This picture taken on March 24, 2019 shows a discarded Islamic State (IS) group flag lying on the ground in the village of Baghouz in Syria's eastern Deir Ezzor province.
This picture taken on March 24, 2019 shows a discarded Islamic State (IS) group flag lying on the ground in the village of Baghouz in Syria's eastern Deir Ezzor province. Copyright GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP or licensors
Copyright GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP or licensors
By Euronews with AP
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Turkish forces have killed the leader of the Islamic State group during an operation in Syria, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said late Sunday.

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Recep Tayyip Erdogan told TRT Turk television in an interview that the IS leader, code-named Abu Hussein al-Qurayshi, was killed in a strike conducted on Saturday.

Erdogan said the Turkish intelligence agency MIT had been following him “for a long time.”

“We will continue our struggle against terrorist organizations without discriminating against any of them,” Erdogan said in the interview. There was no immediate confirmation from the IS group.

Turkey has conducted numerous operations against IS and Kurdish groups along the Syrian border, capturing or killing suspected militants. The country controls large swaths of territory in northern Syria following a series of land incursions to drive Kurdish groups away from the Turkish-Syrian border.

Abu Hussein al-Qurayshi was named leader of the militant group after its previous chief was killed in October, with an IS spokesman calling him “one of the veteran warriors and one of the loyal sons of the Islamic State”.

He took over leadership of IS at a time when the extremist group has lost control of the territory it once held in Iraq and Syria. However, he had been trying to rise again, with sleeper cells carrying out deadly attacks in both countries.

Islamic State founder Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was hunted down by US forces in a raid in northwest Syria in October 2019. His successor, Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, was killed in a similar raid in February last year. He was followed by Abu al-Hassan al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, who according to the US military was killed in mid-October in an operation by Syrian rebels in Syria’s southern province of Daraa.

Ali Unal/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved
Turkish President and People's Alliance's presidential candidate Recep Tayyip Erdogan gestures to supporters during an election campaign rally in Ankara, Sunday, April 30.Ali Unal/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved

None of the al-Qurayshis are believed to be related. Al-Qurayshi is not their real name but comes from Quraish, the name of the tribe to which Islam’s Prophet Muhammad belonged. IS claims its leaders hail from this tribe and “al-Qurayshi” serves as part of an IS leader’s nom de guerre.

The Islamic State group broke away from al-Qaida about a decade ago and ended up controlling large parts of northern and eastern Syria as well as northern and western Iraq. In 2014, the extremists declared their so-called caliphate, attracting supporters from around the world.

In the following years, they claimed attacks throughout the world that killed and wounded hundreds of people before coming under attack from different sides. In March 2019, US-backed Syrian fighters captured the last sliver of land the extremists once held in Syria’s eastern province of Deir el-Zour which borders Iraq.

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