Abu Omar al-Muhajer, a spokesman for the Islamic State (IS) group, announced Wednesday that its Iraqi leader Abu Hasan al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi has been killed in battle without providing further details on the date or circumstances of his death.
The US Central Command confirmed the death on Wednesday, with spokesman Col. Joe Buccino stating that it took place in mid-October when the Free Syrian Army carried out an operation in Syria's Dar'a province.
This is another major blow to IS after Abu Hasan's predecessor and several other IS officials were also killed over the past eight months. And even as IS continues to carry out deadly attacks, its recent successes show one thing above all — thanks to US perseverance in its fight against terrorism, this group is now only a shadow of the organization that once horrified the world.
This is a setback for IS, but it would be a mistake to assume that this signals the end of the jihadist group. IS is now operating a network of autonomous cells and has launched a deadly insurgency in the region. All those fighting the jihadists would have to join forces to defeat them, including Kurdish forces, as well as Russia, Turkey, and the Syrian government. This is a volatile situation.
This is undoubtedly another major blow to IS. But now Turkish President Erdoğan's military actions in Syria, which are also motivated by domestic politics, not only endanger US personnel but threaten to strengthen IS by undermining Western-backed and Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Washington and its partners must increase pressure on Ankara to prevent a resurgence of IS in Syria.