Media reports said yesterday that the Islamic State (IS) terror group has confirmed the death of its leader Abu Hussein al-Husseini al-Quraishi and named Abu Hafs al-Hashimi al-Quraishi as his replacement.  The group's spokesperson reportedly said that in an undated recording published on its Telegram channel.

It appeared to be the militant group's first official announcement on his fate since Turkiye's President Tayyip Erdogan said in April that Turkish intelligence forces had killed him in Syria.

“The suspected leader of Daesh, codename Abu Hussein al-Qurashi, has been neutralized in an operation carried out… by the MIT [National Intelligence Organization] in Syria,” Erdogan said at the time, using the Arabic acronym for the IS terror group.

Turkiye’s Anadolu Agency (AA) said at the time that the MIT conducted a four-hour operation during which it located the ISIL leader.

Al Jazeera reports that the group said on Thursday that its leader had been killed in “direct clashes” with the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) group in Idlib province in rebel-held northwestern Syria.

The group’s spokesman reportedly claimed on Thursday that Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, which controls parts of Idlib province, had killed the group’s chief and handed his body to Turkiye. 

The IS terror group accuses the HTS group – which has not claimed any operation targeting the IS leader – of working in Ankara’s interests.

The United States and other Western governments have blacklisted HTS as a “terrorist” group.

The Voice of America (VOA) says Islamic State gave no details about the new leader.

The movement reached its peak in 2014.  The organization ruled a third of Iraq and Syria and its then head, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, declared the territory it controlled a caliphate.  It was defeated in Iraq in 2017 and in Syria two years later, but sleeper cells still carry out attacks in both countries.