The leader of the Islamic State (IS) is dead following a US raid in northern Syria that also killed a senior deputy of the terror group, US officials say.
Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi set off a blast killing himself and his family as special forces rounded on his hideout after a gunfight.
US President Joe Biden disclosed the overnight raid on Thursday.
Qurayshi’s death “removed a major terrorist threat to the world”, Biden said.
US officials did not name the IS deputy also killed, but provided dramatic details of the operation that had been months in the planning.
IS has so far made no public comments on the issue.
The raid targeted a three-storey residential building on the outskirts of the opposition-held town of Atmeh, which is in northern Idlib province and close to the border with Turkey.
The region is a stronghold of jihadist groups that are fierce rivals of IS, as well as Turkish-backed rebel factions fighting the Syrian government.
Intelligence reports had established that Qurayshi was living with his family on the second floor of the residential building in Atmeh from which he ran IS using couriers to despatch his orders in Syria and elsewhere.
A notorious militant known as “the Destroyer”, Qurayshi – who also went by the noms de guerre Hajji Abdullah, Amir Mohammed Said Abdul Rahman al-Mawla and Abdullah Qardash – became IS leader in 2019, following the death of his predecessor Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Though the terror group announced his rise to the leadership four days after Baghdadi’s death in October, Qurayshi is believed to have long been groomed for the role and kept away from the battlefield in anticipation of assuming the mantle.
US authorities had offered a $10m reward for information about the veteran jihadist, who was born in Mosul, Iraq, in 1976.