US helicopters raid home to nab top ISIS terrorist

US helicopters raid home to nab top ISIS terrorist

Such operations by US forces are rare in parts of northwestern Syria. (file)

Al Humayra, Syria:

US Coalition forces said they had killed a senior . got hold of Witnesses said the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria group bomb maker saw soldiers fall from helicopters over a deserted home in rebel-held northwestern Syria in an earlier raid early Thursday.

A war watchdog and AFP correspondents said two military helicopters landed in a village in the region controlled by Turkish-backed rebel groups for only a few minutes, and several shots were fired.

The US-led coalition battling jihadist groups in Syria and Iraq, using another name for ISIS, said “the man captured is a veteran bomb maker and operational facilitator, one of the top leaders of Daesh’s Syrian branch.” became.”

The coalition did not name the target in the statement, but a coalition official told AFP the man captured was Hani Ahmed al-Kurdi, the ISIS leader of Raqa when it was the de facto capital of IS in Syria.

Such operations by US forces are rare in parts of northwestern Syria controlled by Turkish-backed rebels and non-IS jihadist groups.

The group’s leader, Abu Ibrahim al-Qurashi, was killed in a previous special forces raid in early February, which detonated a bomb vest to evade capture.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based war monitoring group with a vast network of sources on the ground, could not confirm the identity of the captured ISIS operative on Thursday.

The head of the observatory, Rami Abdel Rahman, told AFP that two military helicopters landed in al-Humayrah and took off seven minutes later, adding that only a few shots were fired.

“The US operation was swift and smooth,” he said, adding that it was in the village of al-Humayra, northeast of Aleppo and four kilometers (2.5 miles) from the Turkish border.

‘No civilian harm’

The coalition stated that “the mission was carefully planned to minimize the risk of collateral damage, particularly any potential harm to civilians.”

“No civilians were harmed, nor was there any damage to Coalition aircraft or property during the operation.”

Mohammad Yusuf, a local witness to the raid, said he targeted a house on the outskirts of the village where displaced people from the Syrian city of Aleppo were living.

They reported hectic activity in the sky during the night operation.

“About eight planes took off for more than an hour and a half,” he said. “When they left, we headed towards the house and found women and children tied up in a nearby field.”

He said the women told him that coalition forces had arrested “a man named Fawaz”.

Other residents told AFP that there were about four men and six women living in the house, but they didn’t realize they were a family, and they didn’t mix with the rest of the village.

Other witnesses told AFP that a pro-Turkish Syrian group arrested two other people after the operation.

desert hideout

ISIS lost its last territory in March 2019 after a military offensive backed by a US-led coalition, its remnants retreated mostly to desert bases in Syria.

ISIS cells have since ambushed Kurdish-led forces and the Syrian government or allied forces, carrying out similar attacks in Iraq.

The group’s top leaders, however, often take cover in areas controlled by other forces.

Qureshi’s infamous predecessor, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was killed in a US special forces raid in northwestern Syria, far from the area of ​​ISIS operations.

Little is known about the new leader, Abu Hassan al-Hashmi al-Kurshi, the third head of the jihadist group since its founding.

Media reports said he was captured in Istanbul last month, which was never confirmed, with a Turkish official only telling AFP that a senior but unidentified ISIS member had been detained.

Observers have long feared a resurgence of ISIS in the Badlands stretching across the Iraqi-Syrian border and forming the heart of the group’s once sprawling proto-state.

Yet with continued coalition pressure on its leadership and its sources of funding, the jihadist group still has no fixed position in either country and the intensity of its attacks has remained largely unchanged since 2019.

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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