Islamic State spokesman Abu Hassan al-Muhajir was “targeted” in northern Syria following the killing of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the commander of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces said on Sunday, October 27.
“Continuing the previous operation, the terrorist Abu Hassan al-Muhajir was targeted, the right-hand man of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and the spokesman of the Daesh [ISIS] organization, in the village of Ayn al-Baydah near Jarabalus,” SDF commander-in-chief General Mazlum Abdi tweeted.
The operation was conducted “in direct coordination between SDF intelligence and the American army,” adding that it “came as part of the continuing pursuit of Daesh leaders.”
An SDF official who asked not to be named because he is not authorised to speak on the issue told AFP that al-Muhajir had been killed.
An AFP correspondent in Ain al-Baydah, which is controlled by Turkey-backed Syrian rebels, said two vehicles where 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.
Newsweek reported that the CIA had targeted al-Muhajir using Hellfire missiles.
A spokesperson for the U.S.-led Coalition against ISIS told The Defense Post that the Coalition “supports all efforts to disrupt and defeat ISIS senior leadership,” but declined to give further comment due to operational security considerations.
Ayn al-Baydah is around 10 km (6 miles) south of Jarablus, which is on the Turkey border. Syrian rebels backed by Turkish forces captured the area in during Operation Euphrates Shield in 2016.
“We believe ISIS spox. Al-Muhajir was in Jarablus to facilitate Baghdadi’s entry to Euphrates Shield area,” SDF spokesperson Mustafa Bali later tweeted. “The two US-led operations have effectively disabled top ISIS leadership who were hiding NW Syria. More still remain hiding in the same area.”
Little is known about al-Muhajir’s true identity, though his nom de guerre suggests he was not Syrian. Al-Muhajir was declared the group’s spokesperson in late 2016 after the death of Taha Felaha, also known as Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, near Aleppo in August that year.
Mazlum’s announcement came just hours after U.S. President Donald Trump said ISIS leader Baghdadi was killed in a U.S. Special Operations forces raid on Saturday. Baghdadi allegedly detonated a suicide vest during the operation on a compound in Barisha, a village in Idlib province about 5 km (3.1 miles) from the Syria-Turkey border.
Earlier on Sunday, Mazlum said that for five months “there has been joint intel cooperation on the ground and accurate monitoring” and that “cooperation in monitoring and targeting ISIS leaders” was continuing.
“Soon there will be other effective operations,” Mazlum said.
This developing story was updated on October 27 with reporting from AFP.