The Turkish president said that Turkish intelligence had killed the leader of the Islamic State, Abu Hussein al-Qurashi, in Syria.
“This person was neutralized as part of an operation carried out by the Turkish National Intelligence Organization in Syria yesterday,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in an interview with TRT Turk on Sunday.
He said that the Mukhabarat had chased Qurashi for a long time.
Syrian local and security sources said that the raid took place in the town of Jandris in northern Syria, which is under the control of Turkish-backed opposition factions, and was one of those hardest hit by the February 6 earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria.
The Syrian National Army, an opposition faction with a security presence in the area, did not immediately comment.
One of the residents said that the clashes started on the edge of Jandris at night from Saturday to Sunday, and lasted about an hour before residents heard a big explosion. Security forces later cordoned off the area to prevent anyone from approaching it.
Residents said that the operation targeted an abandoned farm used as an Islamic school.
ISIS chose al-Qurashi as its leader in November 2022 after the previous ISIS leader was killed in an operation in southern Syria.
The Islamic State group seized swathes of Iraq and Syria in 2014, and its leader at the time, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, declared an Islamic caliphate across territory inhabited by millions.
But ISIS has lost its grip on the region after campaigns by US-backed forces in Syria and Iraq, as well as Syrian forces backed by Iran and Russia and various paramilitary factions.
The remaining thousands of its fighters have in recent years gone into hiding in the remote hinterland of both countries, though they are still capable of carrying out major hit-and-run attacks.
The US-led coalition, along with the Kurdish-led coalition known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, continues to conduct raids against ISIS officials in Syria.
In some cases, senior ISIS figures have been targeted while hiding out in areas where Turkey has significant influence.
The United States carried out a helicopter strike in northern Syria in the mid-April operation, saying that the Islamic State group was planning attacks in Europe and the Middle East.
The US Central Command said that it had killed a prominent ISIS leader in the operation, describing him as Abd al-Hadi Mahmoud al-Haj Ali.
With Agence France-Presse
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