The Pentagon will conduct a more thorough after-action review of the raid. But one senior administration official said that “at the beginning of the operation, the terrorist target exploded a bomb that killed him and members of his own family, including women and children.”
“While we are still assessing the results of this operation, this appears to be the same cowardly terrorist tactic we saw in the 2019 operation that eliminated al-Baghdadi,” the official said.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday that the death of Qurayshi “delivers a catastrophic blow to ISIS” and underscores the US commitment to eradicating terrorist threats.
Four civilians and five combatants were killed during the raid, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said during a briefing Thursday. US special forces were able to evacuate 10 people, including eight children, from the first and second floors of the building, Kirby said.
The Syrian civil defense group the White Helmets, however, said 13 people were killed, including six children and four women. It remains unclear why there is such a wide discrepancy between the numbers provided by the Pentagon and the White Helmets.
The five combatants include Qurayshi, his deputy, his deputy’s wife and two others outside the compound who exchanged fire with US troops toward the end of the operation.Syrians gather at the scene following the overnight raid by US Special Forces.
After the US forces landed, they announced their presence loudly, asking those inside the building to leave and for others in the surrounding residential area to stay away.
Moments later, the suicide detonation went off, killing Qurayshi, his wife and his children, blowing their bodies outside the building and onto the surrounding land. The blast occurred before any US forces entered the building, the officials said.
US forces entered the compound because a top ISIS lieutenant lived on the floor beneath Qurayshi. When US forces entered the building, the officials said, he barricaded himself with his wife on the second floor and was killed after engaging them.
Another child was also killed on the second floor, though Kirby would not go into detail about how they were killed.
Toward the end of the operation, two more people were killed when a “group of individuals” approached the compound, Kirby said. The group was deemed hostile by US troops, “they were engaged,” and two of them were killed, he added. A senior defense official said helicopters targeted the two men, though the official said there may have been an exchange of fire on the ground as well. The rest of the group approaching US forces fled.
The operation took about two hours to complete from start to finish, Kirby said.
During the raid, a US helicopter had “mechanical issues” and was “properly disposed of at some distance from the site,” one official said. Those issues had nothing to do with “any kind of hostile action.”
Senior administration officials said the US learned months ago that Qurayshi was living in the compound. He never left it, living on the third floor with his family and running the terror operation through a network of couriers. Families with no connection to ISIS lived on the first floor, apparently without knowledge of the terrorist two stories above them.
When Biden was briefed by operational commanders in December, he ordered the Pentagon to take precautions to minimize civilian deaths — a difficult proposition for a target who appeared to intentionally surround himself with children and families as protection, the officials said.

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