The Islamic State militant group has confirmed the death of its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and announced his successor.
The group’s news agency Amaq said in an audio tape on Thursday that al-Baghdadi, who rose from obscurity to declare himself “caliph” of all Muslims and leader of the Islamic State, was killed by US special forces in northwestern Syria.
Their new leader has been identified by the group as Abu Ibrahim al-Hashemi al-Quraishi.
Aymenn al-Tamimi, a researcher at Swansea University focused on Islamic State, said the name was unknown but could be a top figure called Hajj Abdullah whom the US State Department had identified as a possible successor to al-Baghdadi
“It could be someone we know, who perhaps has just assumed this new name,” said Mr Tamimi.
The group, which controlled swathes of Iraq and Syria between 2014 and 2017 and carried out atrocities that horrified most Muslims, also confirmed the death of its spokesman Abu al-Hassan al-Muhajir.
Baghdadi was killed in Idlib in northwestern Syria.
U.S. special forces carried out the Syrian operation in which Baghdadi killed himself and three of his children by detonating a suicide vest when he was cornered in a tunnel, according to U.S. officials.