By Eyad Kourdi, CNN
ISIS acknowledged the death of its leader Abu al-Hasan al-Hashmi al-Qurayshi on Wednesday and confirmed his successor.
US Central Command confirmed his death on Wednesday, saying the ISIS leader was killed in mid-October by the Free Syrian Army.
“This operation was conducted by The Free Syrian Army in Dar’a province in Syria,” it said in a statement, adding that while it was “another blow” to the group, “ISIS remains a threat to the region.”
ISIS’s media affiliate al-Furqan published an audio message by an ISIS spokesman announcing the death of its leader, who was appointed in March, but it did not make it clear who killed the group commander or where.
“Abu al-Hasan al-Hashmi al-Qurayshi … he was killed while struggling against the enemies’ of God,” spokesman Abu Omar al-Muhajer said in the message released Wednesday.
ISIS announced his successor, who goes by Abu al-Husain al-Husaini al-Quraishi. Little is known about him, but the group described him as an “old fighter” without mentioning any further details.
The deceased leader was appointed by ISIS after US President Joe Biden announced the death of Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi in a military operation in the northwest of Syria.
Abu al-Hasan’s predecessor, Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, died in February during a US counterterrorism raid in northwest Syria. Qurayshi blew himself up as US forces approached his compound.
The raid was the biggest US raid in the country since the 2019 operation that killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and came amid a resurgence of the group in Syria and Iraq.
In January, over 100 ISIS fighters attacked a prison in Syria’s northeast in an attempt to free jailed members of the extremist group. At least 200 prison inmates and 30 security forces died in the clashes that followed the thwarted jail break.
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CNN’s Michael Callahan contributed to this report.