The Islamic State group’s spokesman was killed on Sunday in northern Syria, a top Kurdish official said, hours after the jihadists’ leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was announced dead.
The official with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces — who asked not to be named because he is not authorised to speak on the issue — said ISIS spokesman Abu Hassan al-Muhajir had been killed, after SDF chief Mazloum Abdi said he had been “targeted” in a fresh raid.
“Al-Muhajir, the right-hand of Baghdadi and the spokesman for ISIS, was targeted in the village of Ain al-Baydah near Jarablus, in a coordinated operation between SDF intelligence and the U.S. army,” Mr. Abdi said on Twitter.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed the death of al-Muhajir, saying he was among five ISIS members who were killed in a U.S.-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 U.S.-led operations have effectively disabled top ISIS leadership who were hiding” in northwest Syria.
“More still remain hiding in the same area,” Mr. Bali said.
Earlier on Sunday, Donald Trump said Baghdadi was killed, dying “like a dog,” in a daring, nighttime raid by U.S. special forces deep in northwest Syria.
Mr. Trump said that U.S. forces killed a “large number” of ISIS militants during the raid, which culminated in Baghdadi cornered in a tunnel, where he detonated a suicide vest.
The operation to kill Baghdadi took place near a small village in northwestern Syria called Barisha, more than a 100 kilometres west of Ain al-Baydah.
The ISIS “caliphate” was eradicated in March, nearly five years after it was proclaimed by Baghdadi, largely reducing the jihadist militants to scattered sleeper cells.
At the time, the ISIS spokesman came out of months of silence to spur on his troops. He had not delivered a speech since March.