Iraq News

'Top ISIS cleric' killed in Syria strike: international coalition

The international coalition said Tuesday (June 20th) it had killed the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) group's self-proclaimed top cleric in an airstrike in May on a Syrian town near the Iraqi border, AFP reported.

"Coalition forces killed Turki Binali, the self-proclaimed 'Grand Mufti' or chief cleric of ISIS in an airstrike May 31st in Mayadeen, Syria," the coalition said in a statement.

Rumours of Binali's death had circulated after the strike, but there was no official confirmation until the statement.

It described Binali as "a close confidant" of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and said he "had a central role in recruiting foreign terrorist fighters and provoking terrorist attacks around the world".

A 2016 US Treasury Department counter-terrorism designation identified Binali as a citizen of Bahrain born in the country in 1984.

He was also listed under UN sanctions, which described him as having been chosen as ISIS's "chief religious advisor" in 2014.

He served as head of ISIS's religious compliance police, a recruiter of foreign fighters and on a team of advisors to al-Baghdadi, according to the UN listing.

He was killed in a strike that came days after another coalition air raid on Mayadeen that reportedly killed the founder of ISIS's notorious Amaq propaganda agency.

The May 29th strike killed Rayan Mashaal, also known as Baraa Kadek, according to local Syrian activists, though the coalition has not yet confirmed that.

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