I am immensely proud of the U.S. forces who conducted an operation against Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, the leader of ISIS. He detonated an explosive device during the operation, killing himself and members of his family.
The professionalism, skill and readiness of our troops — honed through relentless rehearsal — has dealt ISIS a severe blow and has helped make our country and our fellow citizens safer.
Al-Qurayshi, also known as Hajii Abdullah, provided near-constant operational guidance to ISIS fighters, to include the prison break and attack at Hasakah and the slaughter of Yazidis in Iraq. He is now off the battlefield and out of command, and cannot threaten any more lives.
I also want to praise the leadership of U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command for their superb support to the planning and execution of this dangerous mission. I’ve been involved with enough of these sorts of operations to know how difficult they are to mount and how meticulously they must be planned and resourced.
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I know the rest of the Department shares my pride in them and my deepest gratitude.
Let me take this opportunity to note that the Department takes seriously our commitment to avoid civilian harm in the course of our operations. This operation was specifically designed and conducted in a manner to minimize civilian casualties. We know that al-Qurayshi and others at his compound directly caused the deaths of women and children last night. But, given the complexity of this mission, we will take a look at the possibility our actions may also have resulted in harm to innocent people.
The fight against ISIS continues. Their leader may be gone, but their twisted ideology and their intent to kill, maim and terrorize still threaten our national security and the lives of countless innocents.
We saw that evil determination in full display during the Hasakah prison break and the fighting that ensued.
And so, we will stay at it … encouraged by the bravery we witnessed last night and emboldened by the knowledge that ISIS, though still very much a viable threat, is now weaker.\