U.S. kills Islamic State officials during raid in Syria

The U.S. military killed two Islamic State “officials” during a special operations raid in eastern Syria on Dec. 11. The U.S. military has targeted the Islamic State’s top tier leadership cadre with raids and strikes at least five times since the beginning of the summer of 2022.

The “successful helicopter raid” took place in the early morning yesterday, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) announced in a press release. CENTCOM described the operation as “unilateral,” meaning it did not partner with local allies to conduct the raid, and said no civilians were killed.

Among those killed was “Anas, an ISIS Syria Province Official who was involved in the group’s deadly plotting and facilitation operations in eastern Syria.” The other Islamic State official was not named, nor was his role in the terror group disclosed.

“ISIS continues to pursue an aggressive operational agenda, including external attacks that threaten U.S. allies and partners in the region and beyond,” CENTCOM noted in its latest press release.

Anas and his unnamed counterpart are the first ISIS commanders reported killed since mid-October, when local Syrian forces allied with the Syrian Arab Army killed Abu al-Hassan al-Hashimi al-Quraishi, the Islamic State’s last caliph, during fighting in Dera’a province in the south. The U.S. military was not involved in the operation that killed the caliph.

The U.S. military did however kill al-Hashimi’s predecessor, Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Quraishi, during a raid in Idlib province in northwestern Syria in February 2022.

The U.S. military has launched at least four other high profile attacks against the Islamic State’s leadership since the beginning of the summer of 2022. The operations have strained the Islamic State’s leadership cadre.

In June 2022, U.S. forces conducted a raid inside Jarablus, Syria, which captured an Islamic State official. A month later, another Islamic State leader was killed in a drone strike near the Syrian town of Jinderes.

On Oct. 6, two Islamic State leaders were reported killed in a U.S. helicopter raid on an Islamic State compound in Qamishli in Syria’s Kurdistan region. One of those leaders killed was the Islamic State’s deputy emir for Syria. Four days later, another reported U.S. drone strike targeted a suspected Islamic State member near Tal Abyad in northern Syria.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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