US forces say ISIS planner and 2 others killed in raid in Syria
Stars and Stripes April 17, 2023
A unilateral strike by U.S. troops in northern Syria killed an Islamic State senior leader and at least other two people, U.S. Central Command said in statements Monday.
The U.S. military described the person targeted in the Monday attack, Abd-al-Hadi Mahmud al-Haji Ali, as a leader for ISIS and planner for strikes in the Middle East and Europe.
CENTCOM said two other people, described as ISIS operatives, were killed in the raid, which the U.S. military said was based on intelligence gathered about a plot to kidnap officials abroad.
No U.S. troops were injured in the raid, CENTCOM said in the statement.
The statement added that no U.S. helicopters were damaged, an apparent reference to local reports saying the opposite.
The affiliation of other two people killed differed in reports by organizations in Syria. The two people were described as members of the “Soqour Al-Shamal” faction, a Turkish-backed militia, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, said in a Facebook post Monday.
The raid took place east of Aleppo in an area of Syria controlled by militant groups backed by Turkey and involved two missiles being fired at a building where an ISIS commander had been living for a few months, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights post said.
A U.S. official confirmed that the post referred to the same CENTCOM raid Monday.
U.S. forces did a DNA test on human remains they secured from the raid, said the U.S. official, who insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record.
The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces also said the attack targeted Soqour Al-Shamal, The Associated Press reported Monday. The SDF partners with the U.S. in anti-ISIS operations. The SDF said the operation was launched from a base near the town of Kobani.
The Syrian volunteer rescue group known as the White Helmets reported a helicopter raid at approximately 1:30 a.m. Monday in a post on its Twitter page.
The White Helmets also said the raid took place east of Aleppo, adding that the group had transported two injured people to a hospital for treatment and that the two died.
A third person was killed as well, and family members took that person’s body, according to the group.
The U.S. has about 900 service members in Syria, part of joint efforts with Kurdish fighters to prevent an ISIS resurgence, according to CENTCOM.
The U.S. also has about 170 contractors in Syria, CENTCOM spokesman Lt. Col. Dave Eastburn said last month.
These forces launched at least 34 operations against ISIS in the first three months of the year, statements by CENTCOM said.
In 2019, the Islamic State, which took over much of Iraq and Syria in 2014, lost the last territory it held. About 10,000 ISIS fighters remain in detention camps in northeastern Syria.
The U.S. says the group remains a threat in the region, and American military operations in recent years have resulted in the elimination of ISIS leaders.
In October 2022, the leader of ISIS, Abu al-Hassan al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, was killed in battle with Syrian rebels in southern Syria.
His predecessor, Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, was killed in a U.S. raid in northwestern Syria earlier that year. ISIS founder Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi died in a raid by U.S. forces in October 2019.