Over the past few months there have been many reports about senior ISIS officials—including the group’s head, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi—being severely injured or killed. The only problem? US officials denied all of these reports. Now, however, we have some good news: there’s been a confirmed kill of a senior ISIS leader by U.S. commandos.
U.S. commandos mounted a rare raid into eastern Syria overnight, killing a senior Islamic State commander in a firefight, capturing his wife and rescuing a Yazidi woman held as a slave, the Pentagon said Saturday.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced the raid, identifying the militant as Abu Sayyaf. He said no U.S. forces were killed or injured in the operation.
A U.S.-led coalition has been striking Islamic State militants in Syria since last year, but this is only the second time troops have carried out a ground raid.
According to a statement released from the National Security Council, Sayyaf was a “senior ISIL leader who, among other things, had a senior role in overseeing ISIL's illicit oil and gas operations -- a key source of revenue that enables the terrorist organization to carry out their brutal tactics and oppress thousands of innocent civilians.”
"He was also involved with the group's military operations," the statement continued.
The U.S. defense official said the raid was conducted overnight Friday (Friday evening Washington time) by a team of Army Delta commandos who flew from Iraq into eastern Syria aboard V-22 Osprey aircraft and Blackhawk helicopters.
Upon arrival at the target, which was a multi-story building, the Americans met stiff resistance. A "fairly intense firefight" ensued, including hand-to-hand combat, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss details of the raid by name.
The U.S. estimates that about a dozen IS fighters were killed but no civilians were wounded, even though women and children were present. The Americans returned to their base unharmed by about midnight Washington time.
The wife, who the U.S. now has in custody, is also suspected of playing a key role in ISIS’s operations. And as for the Yazidi slave, the U.S. said it plans to reunite her with her family as soon as possible.
Let’s hope this is one of many successful raids to come in taking out ISIS’s top leadership.