US forces killed three Daesh leaders in Syria during a helicopter operation and an airstrike carried out between Wednesday evening and Thursday, the US command said.
The US military command for the Middle East (Centcom) wrote in a first press release that the helicopter operation against Rakan Wahid al-Shamri was carried out in the night from Wednesday to Thursday in northeastern Syria. According to consistent sources, it took place in a Syrian regime auxiliaries-held enclave near the city of Qamichli, which is controlled by Kurdish forces allied with American troops.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (OSDH), this is the first time since the war in Syria began in 2011 that US forces have conducted a helicopter operation in an area controlled by Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
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Hundreds of US troops are stationed in northeastern Syria as part of a US-led anti-jihadi coalition that continues to fight alongside its Kurdish allies from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), Daesh’s sleeper cells.
The American command then stated in a second press release that they had killed two other leaders of the jihadist group in an airstrike in northern Syria. According to Centcom, this second attack would have made it possible to kill “both Abu-Hashum al-Umawi (…) and another senior official” of Daesh without affecting civilians.
“This strike will weaken (Daesh’s) ability to destabilize the region and attack our forces and our partners,” commented the head of the American command in the region, General Michael Kurilla.
In Damascus, Syrian state television reported on a helicopter operation by the “American occupation forces” in which one person was killed. She did not give any further details. “Three American helicopters with troops have landed near the village of Moulouk Saray,” a local resident told AFP.
The American soldiers “over loudspeakers called on residents to stay at home” before searching a house. They “killed one person and kidnapped two,” he added on condition of anonymity. According to him, the dead man was a displaced person from the Syrian province of Hassaké, who was little known to the residents and called himself Abu Hayel. The villager claimed that the US soldiers engaged in a firefight against a proxy force of the Syrian regime.
After a meteoric rise in power in Iraq and neighboring Syria in 2014 and the seizure of vast territories, Daesh saw its self-proclaimed “Caliphate” crumble under the impact of successive offensives. He was defeated in Iraq in 2017 and in Syria in 2019. But the Sunni extremist group responsible for numerous attacks continues to carry out sleeper cell attacks in both countries.
The United States continues to attack Daesh leaders. In July, they announced they had killed a senior official in a drone strike in north-west Syria. In June, they reported on the arrest of a jihadist leader during a helicopter operation in northern Syria.
Daesh leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed in a US raid in 2019 and his successor, Abu Ibrahim al-Hachimi al-Qurachi, was killed in February 2022 in a US special forces operation in northwestern Syria, a largely controlled region. eliminated by jihadists. The complex war in Syria, a fragmented country in which various actors are intervening, has claimed the lives of around 500,000 people since 2011.