US Special Operations Forces killed an Islamic State military and financial leader and captured his wife during a raid in eastern Syria last night, the US military confirmed today.
The operation, which included airstrikes followed by an air assault conducted by special operations troops, was designed to capture Abu Sayyaf, a senior leader in the Islamic State, and his wife, Umm Sayyaf.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, 19 Islamic State fighters were killed “due to carrying out airstrikes by warplanes on IS [Islamic State] positions in the oilfield.” A “paratrooper landing followed the strikes.”
“Abu Sayyaf was killed during the course of the operation when he engaged US forces,” according to Carter’s statement. A US official told told The Long War Journal that communications equipment, a computer, and other documents were seized during the raid.
No US troops were killed or wounded, Carter noted.
Abu Sayyaf was “involved in ISIL’s military operations and helped direct the terrorist organization’s illicit oil, gas, and financial operations as well,” Carter said, referring to the Islamic State by its outdated acronym. Abu Sayyaf was also known as Abu Muhammad al Iraqi, a US military official told The Long War Journal.
Second special operations raid in Syria in the past year
Last night’s raid is just the second US special operations mission using ground forces that has been reported in Syria in the past year. President Barack Obama has vowed not to deploy combat forces on the ground to help defeat the Islamic State in Iraq or Syria.
The US has launched at least one other special operations raid in Syria since 2008. In October 2008, special operations forces killed Abu Ghadiya, a senior al Qaeda leader who had been in charge of the group’s Syrian network since 2005, and several aides during an operation in Albu Kamal. The Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria, has subsequently named a training camp after Abu Ghadiya.