Islamic State group says its leader was killed by al-Qaida-linked militants in Syria

BEIRUT (AP) — The Islamic State group announced Thursday the death of its little-known leader, Abu al-Hussein al-Husseini al-Qurayshi, who had been heading the extremist organization since November. It did not say when he was killed.

Al-Qurayshi is the fourth IS leader to be killed since the group was founded by Iraqi militant Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and declared a caliphate in large parts of Syria and Iraq in June 2014 before its defeat years later.

IS spokesman Abu Huthaifa al-Ansari said in an audio message that al-Qurayshi “was martyred” in rebel-held northwestern Syria. He added that al-Qurayshi was killed by members of Syria’s al-Qaida-linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham when they tried to detain him in the province of Idlib.

“He fought them until he succumbed to his wounds,” al-Ansari said of al-Qurayshi, adding that the al-Qaida-linked group detained some IS members who were with the late leader, including Abu Omar al-Muhajir, another spokesman, and that they are still being held.

In April, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkish intelligence agents had killed al-Qurayshi in northern Syria — a statement that IS denied.

IS founder al-Baghdadi was killed in a raid by Americans troops in northwestern Syria in October 2019. The group’s leader after that, Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, was also killed in a U.S. raid in February 2022, in northwestern Syria. His successor was killed in southern Syria later that year.

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