President Joe Biden announced the death of Islamic State leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi on Thursday after the military conducted a raid against a target in Syria.
“Last night at my direction, U.S. military forces in northwest Syria successfully undertook a counterterrorism operation to protect the American people and our Allies, and make the world a safer place,” Biden said in a statement.
The strike reportedly killed at least 13 people including six children and four women, as Breitbart News reported. Biden said all American forces returned from the operation.
In remarks Thursday, Biden boasted that his strike took out a “major terrorist threat” and defended his attempt to reduce civilian casualties.
The president said he ordered a Special Forces team for the strike instead of a missile, but that al-Qurayshi detonated a suicide bomb that heavily damaged the building.
“In a final act of desperate cowardice, with no regard to the lives of his own family or others in the building, he chose to blow himself up, not just with a vest but to blow up that third floor rather than face justice for the crimes he has committed, taking several members of his family with him,” Biden said.
The president praised the military forces in the raid for their successful mission and promised to continue fighting terrorism.
“I’m determined to protect the American people from terrorist threats and I’ll take decisive action to protect this country,” Biden said.
Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said in a statement the operation was a success.
“U.S. Special Operations forces under the control of U.S. Central Command conducted a counter-terrorism mission this evening in northwest Syria,” he wrote in a statement. “The mission was successful.”
Islamic State is only a shell of it’s former prowess as the United States and it’s allies led by President Donald Trump crushed the self-declared caliphate and killed leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in October 2019.
“He died after running into a dead-end tunnel, whimpering and crying and screaming all the way,” Trump said after the successful operation to kill al-Baghdadi.
ISIS named al-Qurashi as the successor of al-Baghdadi, although the terrorist group had lost nearly all of its territory held by the caliphate.