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Two ISIS regional leaders killed during joint raid in Syria, coalition says

Green Berets in southern Syria prepare to fire an 81 mm mortar weapon system during a live-fire exercise in March. Members of the U.S.-led anti-Islamic State coalition and their Syrian partner forces carried out a series of raids against in the country's northeast, killing two regional leaders, in recent weeks the U.S.-led Operation Inherent Resolve said Friday, May 22, 2020.

WILLIAM HOWARD/U.S. ARMY

By CHAD GARLAND | STARS AND STRIPES Published: May 23, 2020

A joint raid with Syrian Democratic Forces and members of the U.S.-led coalition in northeastern Syria last week left two Islamic State leaders dead, Operation Inherent Resolve said.

The terrorist group’s governor of North Baghdad, known as Abu Ali al-Baghdadi, was killed in Deir al-Zour province on May 17, along with a senior logistics and supply official known as Abu Ammar, the coalition said in a statement Friday.

Al-Baghdadi was the nom de guerre of Ahmad Isa Ismail al-Zawi, who was responsible for disseminating guidance from ISIS leaders to operatives in north Baghdad, the coalition said. Ammar, whose real name was Ahmad Abd Muhammad Hasan al-Jughayfi, directed the acquisition and transportation of weapons, bomb materials and personnel across Iraq and Syria, it said.

“The removal of these ISIS leaders will disrupt future attacks against innocent civilians and our security partners and in the region,” the statement said.

The raid was part of an intensified campaign supported by special operations forces, a defense official said.

“The Wali of Baghdad (al-Zawi) blew himself up,” said the official, who asked not to be named to share details that had not been cleared for release. “The logistics guy was killed in a shootout.”

On the day the two leaders were killed, several ISIS members were arrested in a joint coalition-SDF operation, during which two Iraqi nationals blew themselves, the SDF said on Twitter at the time. The raid also found explosive belts, weapons and other equipment, it said.

A joint raid in the province the following day killed another militant, Col. Myles B. Caggins III, spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, said in a tweet calling the SDF “ISIS slayers.”

Coalition and partner forces have conducted several operations in Iraq and Syria over the past few weeks targeting ISIS cells, including airstrikes targeting cave and tunnel complexes where the terrorists have taken refuge in Iraq’s rugged Hamrin Mountains after being ousted from their urban strongholds in both countries in recent years.

ISIS continues to carry out insurgent-style attacks, including bombings, kidnappings and assassinations in both countries. Several recent news reports have warned that the group could mount a resurgence amid the pandemic, which has complicated fighting and strained local resources.

But “continuous pressure” by partner forces aims to prevent an ISIS comeback, said the coalition, which provides advising, intelligence and air support to the partner forces’ campaigns. ISIS leadership in Syria “continues to dwindle” under the weight of SDF operations, the statement said.

The Kurdish-led militia launched a new operation in the province in recent days, arresting three members of an ISIS cell involved in assassinating security forces members, it said on Twitter Friday night.

At least one ISIS member was believed to be killed in the operation as well, Caggins said in a tweet Saturday, calling the SDF and its coalition backers “relentless against ISIS.”

garland.chad@stripes.com
Twitter: @chadgarland

Green Berets conduct a joint patrol mission near At-Tanf Garrison in Syria in late April alongside partner forces. Members of the U.S.-led anti-Islamic State coalition and their Syrian partner forces carried out a series of raids against in the country's northeast, killing two regional leaders in recent weeks the U.S.-led Operation Inherent Resolve said Friday, May 22, 2020.
WILLIAM HOWARD/U.S. ARMY

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