SOHR: 'Leading' ISIS member arrested in Istanbul • The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights

SOHR: ‘Leading’ ISIS member arrested in Istanbul

 

A senior figure of the Islamic State (ISIS) presumed to be the group’s leader was arrested in Istanbul, according to media reports surfacing on Thursday, but officials are yet to confirm the suspect’s identity.

The detainee is said to be a “leading” official in ISIS’ ranks, and while it is unconfirmed whether he is ISIS leader Abu Hassan al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, a top Turkish official told AFP on the condition of anonymity on Friday that he is a member of “the leadership cadres” of the jihadist group.

Abu Hassan was declared leader of ISIS in March, a month after former leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi was killed in a daring overnight US special operations raid in Syria.

Turkish authorities have yet to confirm media reports claiming that the detainee is Abu Hassan. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to address the reports in the coming days.

Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said on Thursday that the US was “not in a position where we can actually confirm that press reporting” when asked about the claims.

US forces killed Abu Ibrahim in an overnight operation on his house in the town of Atmeh, northern Idlib, and just east of the border with Turkey on February 3. He blew himself up as US forces advanced on his property.

The bomb detonated by Abu Ibrahim during his last stand with US forces also led to the deaths of twelve others, including four children and three women, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told Rudaw English following the operation.

Three years prior, longtime ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi died in a similar US forces raid in another area of Idlib. Baghdadi detonated a suicide vest after being cornered in a tunnel with three of his children.

Former US President Donald Trump said following the operation that “Baghdadi did not die like a hero, but a dog whimpering and screaming … he died like a coward.”

ISIS formerly controlled large areas of Iraq and Syria, but the jihadists became fully devoid of territorial control in 2017 and 2019 respectively after their sudden rise to power in 2014 established an even further security and humanitarian crisis in the region.

While the group lost complete territorial control, it still continues to pose security risks through abductions, hit-and-run attacks, and bombings, particularly in the security vacuum areas of northern Iraq disputed between Erbil and Baghdad, as well as in the country’s western desert regions.

ISIS militants in January launched their biggest assault since the defeat of their so-called caliphate when they attacked al-Sina’a prison in Hasaka, northeast Syria (Rojava) to free fellow members and affiliates. The ensuing week-long offensive by Kurdish-led forces against the terror group left over 370 dead.

The news reports come as Erdogan has hinted at launching a new offensive along Turkey’s southern border, likely targeting Kurdish fighters in northern Syria.

 

 

Source: Rudaw

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