The Islamic State (IS) militant group has appointed a beforehand unknown determine as its head after its chief blew himself up in October whereas being besieged by former anti-government rebels in southern Syria, these concerned within the conflict advised Reuters.
IS chosen Abu al-Hussein al-Husseini al-Quraishi as its new chief, a spokesman for the group mentioned in a recording. He didn’t provide additional particulars on the brand new chief.
It was each the primary time IS’s prime chief was killed in an operation that didn’t contain the US-led coalition, and the primary time an IS chief was killed in southern Syria, reasonably than the north.
Abu al-Hassan al-Hashemi al-Quraishi was killed in an operation carried out in Deraa, the southern province the place Syria’s rebellion first kicked off in 2011, based on these concerned within the preventing in addition to the US navy.
Deraa returned to Syrian military management in 2018 following Russian-brokered reconciliation offers that noticed rebels hand over heavy weapons and be integrated into pro-government models.
Quraishi and his aides had been found hiding out in a home within the city of Jasem, based on former rebels concerned within the conflict, kin of others who died within the preventing, and residents.
“The chief and a companion blew themselves up with suicide belts after our fighters succeeded in storming their hideout,” mentioned Salem al Horani, a resident and former insurgent who helped besiege the three homes the place the IS cell was found.
Native sources mentioned Quraishi was amongst dozens of IS fighters who got here to southern Syria earlier this yr from different hideouts within the sparsely populated Syrian desert, the place that they had taken shelter after shedding their final enclave in Syria in 2019.
The southern province had turn into a flashpoint of preventing in current months as IS fighters waged hit-and-run assaults in opposition to the Syrian military and their allies within the desert areas at an growing tempo, based on Western intelligence sources.
Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi, an Arabic translator and editor at Center East-focused consultancy Castlreagh Associates, mentioned safety gaps in Deraa supplied Islamic State a secure house to cover, although the group didn’t promote its presence there.
“Basically the group’s management has dangerous choices wherever they’re in Iraq or Syria,” Tamimi advised Reuters.
“It’s actually a matter of discovering the least dangerous choice: on the whole this implies the place the US-led coalition has the least surveillance and fewest intelligence property,” he mentioned, which included southern zones.
The US navy assertion didn’t point out the Syrian military nor its ally Russia, which had introduced in current months that their joint operations had focused IS cells in Deraa.
In an audio recording launched on Wednesday, an IS spokesman mentioned Quraishi was killed whereas “preventing enemies of God”, and mentioned Abu Hussein was the following chief, with out elaborating.
“I don’t assume anybody has any details about this individual. it is going to take a while, it takes time to confirm,” mentioned Hassan Hassan, creator of a e book on Islamic State.
“IS is in disarray, they’ve been much more cautious about producing any details about (their leaders). They don’t have the identical confidence, they’re on the run,” he added.
Islamic State emerged from the chaos of the civil struggle in neighbouring Iraq and took over huge swathes of Iraq and Syria in 2014. Then-IS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared an Islamic caliphate from a mosque within the northern Iraqi metropolis of Mosul that yr and proclaimed himself caliph of all Muslims.
Islamic State killed and executed hundreds of individuals within the identify of its excessive interpretation of Islam earlier than it was territorially defeated in Iraq in 2017 and Syria in 2019.
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