Syria’s army takes credit for killing IS leader in October: State media

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Syria’s army has taken credit for killing the head of the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group in an operation in the country’s south in October, state media reported on Friday.

Abu al-Hassan al-Hashemi al-Quraishi was killed in an operation carried out in Deraa, the southern province where Syria’s uprising first kicked off in 2011, according to those involved in the fighting as well as the US military.

It was both the first time the US led coalition was not involved in killing the top IS leader and the first time an IS leader was killed in Syria’s south rather than the north, where a range of factions, some of them US backed, hold sway.

Deraa returned to Syrian army control in 2018 following Russian-brokered reconciliation deals that saw rebels hand over heavy weapons and be incorporated into pro-government units.

In October, some of those fighters surrounded the house Quraishi was using as a hideout in the town of Jasem, according to former rebels involved in the clash, relatives of others who died in the fighting, and residents.

But on Friday, a security source in Deraa province told the state news agency SANA that the operation directly involved Syrian army troops as well as “local and civil groups” and resulted in his killing on October 15.

The Syrian Democratic Forces, a US-backed alliance that has fought Islamic State in Syria’s north and east, said on Thursday it was not involved in the operation. The Pentagon also said it was not involved.