Islamic State says its leader killed, names successor -audio message


CAIRO (Reuters) -Islamic State (IS) militant group leader Abu al-Hassan al-Hashemi al-Quraishi was killed in fighting, its spokesman said in an audio message posted on an affiliated Telegram channel.

The group has selected Abu al-Hussein al-Husseini al-Quraishi to replace him, he added. The spokesman said Abu al-Hassan al-Hashemi al-Quraishi was killed while "fighting enemies of God", without elaborating.

No details about the new IS leader were given in the audio.

IS announced Abu al-Hassan al-Hashemi al-Quraishi as its new leader in March after the death of predecessor Abu Ibrahim al-Hashemi al-Quraishi.

The latter Quraishi was the brother of slain former IS caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, according to two Iraqi security officials and one Western security source.

Both Quraishi and Baghdadi died by blowing themselves and family members up during U.S. raids on their hideouts in northern Syria.

Islamic State emerged from the chaos of the civil war in neighbouring Syria last decade and took over vast swathes of Iraq and Syria in 2014. Baghdadi declared an Islamic caliphate from a mosque in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul that year and proclaimed himself caliph of all Muslims.

Islamic State's brutal rule, during which it killed and executed thousands of people in the name of its narrow interpretation of Islam, came to an end in Mosul when Iraqi and international forces defeated the group there in 2017.

Its remaining thousands of militants have in recent years mostly hid out in remote territory but are still able to carry out significant insurgent-style attacks.

(Reporting by Mahmoud Mourad and Yomna Ehab, editing by Mark Heinrich)

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