ISIS suffered a major defeat just hours after the terrorist attack in Paris, with reports that coalition forces destroyed the militant group’s headquarters in Iraq in an attack that left 250 militants dead.
On Saturday, the leader of the Albu Nimir tribe in Anbar announced that a coalition of fighters attacked the terrorist group’s stronghold.
“A force belonging to al-Jazeerah and al-Badiyah Operations, with support from the 7th division of the army, and backed by fighters from the clan of Albu Nimir and al-Jaghaiyfa as well as other clans, had managed to destroy the headquarters of ISIS in the area of Albu Hayat in the city of Haditha (160 km west of Ramadi),” Naeem Kawood told Ahlul Bayt News Agency, adding that, “250 ISIS elements had been killed, in addition to destroying 15 vehicles for the group, including a booby-trapped vehicle and another that was carrying weapons.”
The major defeat for ISIS came within hours of the militant group claiming credit for the terrorist attack in Paris that left close to 130 dead. The series of coordinated attacks took place Friday night, with suicide bombers attacking the Stade de France and storming a concert hall, killing close to 80 people.
France mourns and seeks clues to those behind deadly Paris attacks https://t.co/Nm37DckMQV pic.twitter.com/CZ4Uy1bH3x
— TIME.com (@TIME) November 15, 2015
“At first we thought it was part of the show but we quickly understood,” Pierre Janaszak, a radio presenter, told AFP news agency (via BBC).
“They didn’t stop firing. There was blood everywhere, corpses everywhere. We heard screaming. Everyone was trying to flee.”
French President Francois Hollande called the attack an “act of war” and promised a “merciless” response.
— Charles P. Pierce (@ESQPolitics) November 15, 2015
“We will work alongside our allies to fight this terrorist menace,” he said, adding, “France is strong and even if she is wounded she will get up always and nothing will hold her down, even if we are feeling the grief now … We will defend ourselves.”
It does not appear that the attack on the ISIS headquarters is connected to that response, as reports indicate that western partners in the fight against ISIS may not have been directly involved.
But France and other western countries are already working to respond directly to the terrorist attack. Reports indicate that Salim Benghalem, a French militant who has been known as an executioner for ISIS, likely played a role in the planning of Friday’s attack and is now an important target.
“But more important for France, counterterrorism officials say that Benghalem is the supervisor for French would-be jihadists who travel to Syria to live and train with the group,” the report from the Daily Beast noted. “U.S. as well as French and other European authorities have locked onto this so-called foreign fighter flow as a main threat to their domestic security. Some of the fighters ISIS trains, it then sends back to the West countries to conduct attacks.”
Salim Benghalem was almost killed in recent days in an airstrike in Syria, but he was able to escape. It was around the same time that an airstrike killed Mohammed Emwazi, the British citizen identified as the ISIS executioner Jihadi John.
His killing has not yet been confirmed, American intelligence officials said.
“We know for a fact that the weapon system hit its intended target, and that the personnel who were on the receiving end of that weapons system were in fact killed,” said Col. Steve Warren, a spokesman for the American-led coalition fighting (via the New York Times).
There was not immediate confirmation of the attack at the ISIS headquarters that left 250 militants dead.
[Picture by John Moore / Getty Images]