BEIRUT: American forces targeted a “senior” member of the terrorist Daesh (Isis) group on Thursday in a pre-dawn raid on northeastern Syria, the US military’s Central Command said.
The operation is the latest US effort to clamp down on militants who have been territorially defeated but still orchestrate attacks in Syria and neighbouring Iraq.
“Centcom forces conducted a raid in northeast Syria targeting a senior Isis official,” spokesman Colonel Joe Buccino said in an emailed statement to AFP, without elaborating.
Syria’s state broadcaster had said a US airborne operation involving multiple helicopters left one person dead and saw several others captured in a government-controlled area of Syria’s northeast, which is mostly dominated by Kurdish forces.
The targeted village, Muluk Saray, lies 17km south of the Kurdish-held city of Qamishli and is controlled by pro-regime militias, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Thursday’s raid is the first such airborne operation in government-held territory since the start of Syria’s war in 2011, added the Britain-based war monitor.
The person killed in the operation “had been a resident of the area for years”, said the Observatory which relies on a wide network of sources in Syria.
At least two people were captured alive in the operation, including a Syrian and an Iraqi, the monitor said.
A resident of the village said three US helicopters carrying troops had landed in the operation.
US forces raided a house, killing one person and taking several others captive, the resident told AFP on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.
“They used loudspeakers to call on residents to stay indoors” during the operation, the resident said.
The resident identified the victim as Abu Hayel, a little-known displaced person from Hassakeh province.
The United States leads a military coalition battling Daesh in Syria.
In July, the Pentagon said it killed Syria’s top Daesh terrorist in a drone strike in the northern part of the country.
Centcom said he had been “one of the top five” Daesh leaders.
The July strike came five months after a nighttime US raid in the town of Atme, which led to the death of the overall Daesh leader, Abu Ibrahim Al Qurashi.
US officials said Qurashi died when he detonated a bomb to avoid capture.
After losing their last territory following a military onslaught backed by the US-led coalition in March 2019, the remnants of Daesh in Syria mostly retreated into desert hideouts.
They have since used such hideouts to ambush Kurdish-led forces and Syrian government troops while continuing to mount attacks in Iraq.