Erdogan says Turkey has killed suspected ISIL leader

The Turkish president reveals that an intelligence operation took place in Jinderes in northwestern Syria on Saturday.

Turkish intelligence services have killed the suspected leader of the ISIL (ISIS) group, Abu al-Hussein al-Husseini al-Qurashi, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced.

Erdogan said Turkish intelligence had been watching the alleged leader of the hardline group for a long time before launching their operation.

“This person was neutralized yesterday as part of an operation by the Turkish National Intelligence Organization in Syria,” Erdogan said in an interview with TRT Turk broadcaster on Sunday.

“We will continue our fight against terrorist organizations without discrimination of any kind,” the president added.

Syrian local and security sources said the raid took place near the northern Syrian town of Jinderes, which is controlled by Turkish-backed rebel groups and was one of the hardest hit areas in the February 6 earthquake that hit both Turkey and Syria.

There was no announcement from ISIL (ISIS). The Syrian National Army, an opposition faction with a security presence in the area, did not immediately comment.

An AFP news agency correspondent in northern Syria said Turkish intelligence agents and local military police, backed by Turkey, sealed off a zone in Jindires on Saturday.

Residents told AFP an operation targeted an abandoned farm used as an Islamic school.

A resident told Reuters news agency clashes began on the outskirts of the city on Saturday night, lasting about an hour before residents heard a large explosion.

The area was later surrounded by security forces to prevent anyone from approaching.

Al-Qurashi became leader of ISIL (ISIS) in November 2022 after his predecessor was assassinated.

The group ISIL (ISIS) took over large parts of Iraq and Syria in 2014 and its then leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, proclaimed an Islamic caliphate in an area where millions of people lived.

But the group lost its grip on the territory following campaigns by US-backed forces in Syria and Iraq, as well as Syrian forces backed by Iran, Russia and various paramilitaries.

The remaining fighters are now largely hiding in remote areas of Syria and Iraq, and still carry out attacks from time to time.