Biden says U.S. raid in Syria targeted leader of Islamic State

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

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

"Thanks to the skill and bravery of our Armed Forces, we have taken off the battlefield Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi - the leader of ISIS. All Americans have returned safely from the operation," Biden said in a statement, referring to the acronym by which the Sunni Islamist militant group is sometimes known.

A senior U.S. administration official told Reuters al-Quraishi was killed in the raid.

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"At the beginning of the operation the terrorist target exploded a bomb that killed him and members of his own family, including women and children," the administration official said.

After the killing of Islamic State founder Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in October 2019, the group named as his successor al-Quraishi, an Iraqi who was once held in U.S. custody.

"While we are still assessing the results of this operation, this appears to be the same cowardly terrorist tactic we saw in the 2019 operation that eliminated al-Baghdadi," the official said.

Biden planned to deliver remarks on the Syria operation at 9:30 a.m. ET/1430 GMT, the White House said.

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

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