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Biden says US raid in Syria targeted Islamic State leader

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U.S. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris (not seen) greet the National Association of Governors in the East Room at the White House in Washington, DC, U.S., January 31, 2022. REUTERS/Leah Millis

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WASHINGTON, Feb 3 (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden said on Thursday a counter-terrorism raid by U.S. special forces in northwest Syria was targeting the Islamic State leader, adding he would address the operation in remarks later Thursday.

“Thanks to the skill and bravery of our armed forces, we removed Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi – the leader of the Islamic State from the battlefield. All Americans returned safe and sound from the operation “Biden said in a statement, referring to the acronym by which the Sunni Islamist militant group is sometimes known.

A senior US administration official told Reuters that al-Quraishi was killed in the raid.

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“At the start of the operation, the terrorist target detonated a bomb that killed him and his own family members, including women and children,” the administration official said.

After the assassination of Islamic State founder Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in October 2019, the group named his successor al-Quraishi, an Iraqi who was previously detained by the United States.

“While we are still evaluating the results of this operation, it appears to be the same cowardly terror tactic we saw in the 2019 operation that eliminated al-Baghdadi,” the official said.

Biden planned to deliver a speech on the Syria operation at 9:30 a.m. ET / 2:30 p.m. GMT, the White House said.

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Reporting by Steve Holland; Additional reporting by Susan Heavey; Written by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky and Chizu Nomiyama

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