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What has happened since American Special Forces killed the head of ISIS during a Syria raid?

Earlier this week an American operation killed ISIS chief Abu al-Qurayshi, but local reports suggest as many as ten civilians may have died during the raid.

Earlier this week an American operation killed ISIS chief Abu al-Qurayshi, but local reports suggest as many as ten civilians may have died during the raid.

On Wednesday it was announced that ISIS leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi was killed during an American Special Forces raid in northwest Syria. The raid was the biggest of its kind since former ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed in 2019.

In a White House speech on Thursday morning Biden announced that the raid had taken “a major terrorist leader off the battlefield,” and thanked “the bravery of our troops.”

He continued: "Knowing that terrorist had chosen to surround himself with families, including children, we made a choice to pursue a Special Forces raid at a much a greater risk to our own people rather than targeting him with an airstrike."

However al-Qurayshi was not actually killed by US forces and is thought to have detonated a suicide bomb after realising that the camp in Syria’s rebel-held Idlib Province was surrounded.

There is currently a significant discrepancy between the figures published by the Pentagon and the White Helmets, a local rescue service who have since attended the site. The Pentagon stated that the attack resulted in the deaths of five combatants and four civilians; while the White Helmets put the total death toll at 13 people, including six children and four women.

Why were so many people killed in the Syria raid?

The Pentagon has confirmed that it will conduct a thorough review of the raid but already questioned are being asked as to why so many civilians died. Areas of the residential building targeted by Species Forces were completely destroyed and some of the civilian deaths are thought to have died in a gunfight.

A relief group known as the Syrian Civil Defense have said that those reported dead likely died “after an American airdrop.” The raid lasted about two hours and the Pentagon have confirmed that a small number of inhabitants at the target building engaged.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said: "In that engagement two of them were killed. That resulted in the end of the hostile activity.”

Kirby went on to outline the efforts made by American officials to limit the risk of unintended deaths, confirming that ten people, eight of whom were children, were successfully evacuated from the same building.

CNN report that Special Forces announced their intentions loudly before entering the building in the hope of avoiding civilian casualties, but that a suicide bomb was detonated soon after. It is thought that al-Qurayshi, his wife and his children were killed in this initial blast.

However with inconsistencies between the Pentagon’s account of events and reports from the ground, the Department of Defense has confirmed that the operation in Syria will be reviewed. Although currently unwilling to get into specifics, Kirby has stated that there are “strong, strong indications” that US forces were not responsible for the civilian deaths.