Last update: May 01, 2023, 6:09 PM HST
Turkish President and Popular Alliance presidential candidate Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivers a speech during an election campaign rally in Ankara on April 30, 2023. (AFP)
Erdogan said the intelligence organization has long been pursuing Islamic State leader Abu Hussein al-Qurashi
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday that Turkish intelligence forces killed Islamic State leader Abu Hussein al-Qurashi in Syria.
“This individual was neutralized yesterday as part of an operation by Turkey’s national intelligence organization in Syria,” Erdogan said in an interview with TRT Turk TV channel.
Erdogan said the intelligence organization has been pursuing Qurashi for a long time.
Syrian local and security sources said the raid took place in the northern Syrian town of Jandaris, which is controlled by Turkish-backed rebel groups and was one of the hardest hit by the February 6 earthquake that hit both Turkey and Syria.
The Syrian National Army, an opposition faction with a security presence in the area, had no immediate comment.
A resident said clashes began near Jandaris overnight from Saturday to Sunday, lasting about an hour before residents heard a large explosion.
The area was then surrounded by security forces to prevent anyone from approaching it.
IS chose al-Qurashi as its leader in November 2022 after the former IS leader was killed during an operation in southern Syria.
The Islamic State took control of large swaths of Iraq and Syria in 2014, and its leader at the time, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, declared an Islamic caliphate in territory that was home to millions.
But IS lost its grip on the territory after campaigns by US-backed forces in Syria and Iraq, as well as Syrian forces backed by Iran, Russia and various paramilitaries.
Its thousands of remaining militants have been hiding in recent years mostly in the remote hinterlands of both countries, though they are still capable of carrying out major hit-and-run attacks.
The US-led coalition alongside a Kurdish-led alliance known as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) is still carrying out raids against IS officials in Syria.
In some cases, senior IS operatives have been targeted while hiding in areas where Turkey wields major influence.
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(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed)