4 US troops, dog hurt during helicopter raid in Syria that killed senior ISIS leader
Stars and Stripes February 17, 2023
The U.S. military carried out a helicopter raid in Syria that killed a senior Islamic State leader — an operation that also left four American troops and a military dog wounded, defense officials said Friday.
U.S. Central Command, which runs operations in the Middle East, said the raid was conducted Thursday night in partnership with the allied Syrian Democratic Forces in northeastern Syria near Deir el-Zour. The raid targeted and killed senior ISIS leader Hamza al-Homsi, who oversaw the group’s terrorist network in eastern Syria.
“An explosion on target resulted in four U.S. servicemembers and one working dog [being] wounded,” CENTCOM said in a statement. “The U.S. service members and working dog are receiving treatment in a U.S. medical facility in Iraq.”
The injuries suffered by the U.S. service members and the dog weren’t immediately clear Friday, though CENTCOM said they are in stable condition. No civilians or SDF forces were injured in the operation.
No other ISIS fighters were killed or captured during this raid. However, a separate raid that same night resulted in the death of an ISIS assassination cell leader, CENTCOM said.
The SDF is a Kurdish-led coalition of rebels and ethnic groups that have been fighting government forces and Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad in a civil war since 2011. Russia and Iran have been Syria’s top allies in the war and Moscow has provided military equipment to the government during the conflict. At the same time, U.S. and allied forces have also been fighting terrorist factions in Syria, which has long been home to the Islamic State. The top goal of ISIS is to establish an Islamic caliphate in Syria and neighboring Iraq.
Several U.S. military operations in recent years have resulted in frequent turnover in the leadership of ISIS.
In February 2021, Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi was killed in a U.S. raid in northwest Syria. ISIS founder Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was hunted down by U.S. forces in a raid in October 2019. In October, the leader of ISIS, Abu al-Hassan al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, was killed in battle with Syrian rebels in southern Syria, according to The Associated Press.
The helicopter raid happened just a few days after parts of northwestern Syria were devastated by a 7.8-magnitude earthquake. The disaster has so far caused tens of thousands of deaths in Syria and neighboring Turkey and extensive infrastructure damage in both countries. Experts have said this week that the ongoing civil war and terrorist dangers have made it difficult to get humanitarian aid into Syria.