Islamic State spokesman killed in fresh north Syria raid, SDF official says
The Islamic State (IS) group's spokesman was killed on Sunday in northern Syria, a top Kurdish official said, hours after the group’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was announced dead.
The official with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces - who asked not to be identified because he is not authorised to speak on the issue - said IS spokesman Abu Hassan al-Muhajir had been killed, after SDF chief Mazloum Abdi said that he had been "targeted" in a fresh raid, AFP reported.
"Al-Muhajir, the right hand of Baghdadi and the spokesman for IS, was targeted in the village of Ain al-Baydah near Jarablus, in a coordinated operation between SDF intelligence and the US army," Abdi said on Twitter.
Muhajir was appointed IS spokesperson in 2016 after his predecessor, Abu Mohammad al-Adnani, was killed in a US airstrike in Aleppo, Syria. Unlike Baghdadi and Adnani, who were known to be Iraqi and Syrian nationals, respectively, Muhajir's identity was publicly unknown, though his nickname - meaning "emigrant" - suggested he may have been a foreigner, according to Newsweek.
An AFP correspondent in Ain al-Baydah, which is controlled by Turkey-backed Syrian rebels, said two vehicles were hit by airstrikes: a small pick-up truck and a larger truck carrying a small metal container.
He saw two corpses lying outside the first vehicle while a third charred body was in the metal container.
He could not identify who was behind the strikes or if they were carried out by warplanes or a drone.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed the death of Muhajir, saying he was among five IS members who were killed in a US-led operation backed by the SDF.
In a later post on Twitter, SDF spokesman Mustefa Bali said: "We believe ISIS spox. Al-Muhajir was in Jarablus to facilitate Baghdadi's entry to Euphrates Shield area," referring to a zone in northern Syria controlled by Turkey's Syria proxies.
"The two US-led operations have effectively disabled top ISIS leadership who were hiding" in northwest Syria, he said, using a different acronym for IS. "More still remain hiding in the same area," Bali added.