Remnants of the Islamic State group continue to operate in parts of Syria and, as such, an undisclosed number of U.S. troops also remain deployed there to assist allied Kurdish fighters in hunting down and capturing or killing those radical jihadists.
Two military operations were carried out by U.S. Special Forces in Syria this week against top Islamic State group targets, the first a rare and dramatic helicopter raid into a Syrian government-controlled village and the second an airstrike on another location, Breitbart reported.
Both of those operations in Syria were confirmed by local Arab media outlets, and both were reported to be successful in taking out top Islamic State figures without any U.S. losses or collateral damage.
Helicopter raid on Syrian government-held village
U.S. Central Command issued a press release on Thursday to announce the helicopter raid it conducted Wednesday on a location in northeast Syria near the Syrian government-held village of Qamishli that targeted a known Islamic State group weapons smuggler named Rakkan Wahid al-Shammri.
That individual was said to have been killed in the raid, while one of his associates was wounded and two others were detained by U.S. forces. No Americans were injured or killed, nor were any civilians on the ground, and no U.S. equipment was damaged or lost.
Al Jazeera reported that the U.S. helicopter raid was confirmed by reports from Syrian state-run media, which asserted that the operation was the “first known raid” of this sort in a government-held area.
According to village residents, U.S. troops arrived in three helicopters, used loudspeakers to instruct civilians to remain indoors, and left after a few hours with little or no exchange of gunfire.
The raid was also confirmed through local sources by the Al-Araby media outlet, though the account differed somewhat in that villagers claimed there had been four U.S. helicopters in the operation and there had been some bursts of gunfire near government checkpoints around the outskirts of the village.
Airstrike kills two top officials
Less than a day after that helicopter raid, CENTCOM announced in a separate release that it had also conducted an airstrike on Thursday in northern Syria that successfully killed a top Islamic State group deputy named Abu-Hashum al-Umawi along with another unnamed senior Islamic State group official.
The military claimed that no U.S. forces had been injured or killed, nor was any equipment damaged or lost, and “initial assessments” indicated that no civilians had been killed or wounded in the airstrike.
“This strike will degrade ISIS’ ability to destabilize the region and strike at our forces and partners,” CENTCOM Commander General Michael “Erik” Kurilla said in the statement. “Our forces remain in the region to ensure the enduring defeat of ISIS.”
That strike was also confirmed by Arab media, which also noted that in spite of the U.S. assertion that it only remains in the region to guard against a resurgence of the Islamic State group, Syrian state-run media claims that the American forces are actually illegally occupying Syrian government territory in order to control Syrian oil fields in the area.