US commandos kill two Islamic State leaders in Syria

WASHINGTON — U.S. special operations forces carried out a helicopter raid on Islamic State in northeastern Syria on Sunday morning, killing two operatives, including an official the military says was involved in the plot. and the activation of terrorist attacks.

The Pentagon’s Central Command, which oversees US troops in Syria, said in a statement on Sunday that the mission’s main target, a provincial Syrian Islamic State official known as Anas war, was killed during the raid that took place at 2:57 am in an undisclosed part of eastern Syria.

US commandos had been planning the mission for weeks, but bad weather had delayed the operation, US officials said. When the weather cleared, commandos flying in two helicopters sought to capture Anas in his compound, but in a brief ensuing firefight he and an associate were killed, officials said. The fact that the Pentagon sent commandos to kill or capture Anas, rather than using a less risky drone operation, indicated its importance.

No Americans were injured during the nearly three-hour operation, officials said. An initial assessment indicated that no civilians were killed or injured, according to the military statement.

“The Islamic State continues to pose a threat to the security and stability of the region,” Colonel Joseph Buccino, spokesman for the Central Command, said in the statement. “The deaths of these ISIS officials will disrupt the terrorist organization’s ability to continue plotting and carrying out destabilizing attacks in the Middle East.”

Charles Lister, director of the Syria and Counterterrorism and Counterterrorism Programs at the Middle East Institute in Washington, said on Sunday that the US campaign was at a pivotal moment “where the elimination of mid-level operational commanders is arguably even more important than the top brass.” leadership.” He said this was especially true during the winter, when the frequency of attacks decreases and ISIS operatives try to consolidate and prepare for future attacks.

The raid was the first major US counterterrorism operation in northeastern Syria since US special operations forces carried out two major strikes against ISIS in October that killed three senior officials responsible for arming and recruit fighters and prepare attacks, according to US and Syrian Kurdish officials.

In the first of these twin attacks, helicopter-borne commandos killed Rakkan Wahid al-Shammari, who was facilitating the smuggling of weapons and fighters to support ISIS operations. Several hours later, according to the military, a deputy leader of Islamic State in Syria and a man responsible for the group’s prisoner affairs were killed in a US drone strike in the north of the country.

Late last month, the Islamic State announced that its leader, whose identity has remained shrouded in mystery, had been killed in action less than nine months after taking over as head of the terror organization.

A Central Command spokesman confirmed in a statement shortly after ISIS’s announcement that the leader, Abu al-Hassan al-Hashemi al-Quraishi, was killed in mid-October by anti-government rebels in southern Syria.

He had been appointed by the group in March, after its two former leaders were killed in separate raids by special operations forces on safe havens in northern Syria. The Islamic State also named a successor last month, but did not provide any information about him other than a nom de guerre.

The leadership transition, announced by voicemail on Telegram, came at a time of extreme weakness for the group, which has been reduced in just a few years from the world’s most fearsome terrorist network to a low-level insurgency fighting to maintain its relevance. in predominantly rural areas of conflict-torn countries.


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