According to the National Security Council Spokesperson Bernadette Meehan, during an operation in al-Amr in eastern Syria, U.S. Special Forces captured an ISIL senior leader known as Abu Sayyaf and his wife Umm Sayyaf.
During the course of the operation, Abu Sayyaf was killed. Umm Sayyaf was captured and is currently in U.S. military detention in Iraq. No U.S. personnel were killed or injured during the operation. Besides, the operation led to the releasing of a young Yezidi woman who appears to have been held as a slave by the couple.
As said by a U.S. official familiar with the operation, U.S. personnel entered the target area on Blackhawk helicopters and V-22 aircraft. ISIS fighters defended the multistoried building from inside and outside positions.
“Abu Sayyaf was a senior ISIL leader who, among other things, had a senior role in overseeing ISIL’s illicit oil and gas operations – a key source of revenue that enables the terrorist organization to carry out their brutal tactics and oppress thousands of innocent civilians,” stated Bernadette Meehan.
“He was also involved with the group’s military operations. We suspect that Umm Sayyaf is a member of ISIL, played an important role in ISIL’s terrorist activities, and may have been complicit in the enslavement of the young woman rescued last night,” she added
This is the first declared operation by U.S. Special Forces in Syria since their failed attempt to release a number of American hostages held by Islamic State last summer.
“The operation represents another significant blow to ISIL, and it is a reminder that the United States will never waver in denying safe haven to terrorists who threaten our citizens, and those of our friends and allies,” according to a statement issued by Defense Secretary Ash Carter.
According to CNN and its sources, about a dozen ISIS fighters were killed in the firefight at a residential building in Deir Ezzor. The United States is leading a coalition in a military campaign to diminish the jihadist group whose self-declared caliphate in Syria and Iraq has reformed the region.
“The President authorized this operation upon the unanimous recommendation of his national security team and as soon as we had developed sufficient intelligence and were confident the mission could be carried out successfully and consistent with the requirements for undertaking such operations. This operation was conducted with the full consent of Iraqi authorities and, like our existing airstrikes against ISIL in Syria, consistent with domestic and international law,” said Bernadette Meehan.
“We are working to determine an ultimate disposition for the detainee that best supports the national security of the United States and of our allies and partners, consistent with domestic and international law. We will follow our usual practice with respect to giving the ICRC notification and access to the detainee,” she added.