The US military carried out a strike in northeastern Syria on Tuesday night that killed an ISIS arms smuggler, the Pentagon said in a statement on Thursday.
“Last night, US Central Command forces conducted a helicopter strike near the town of Qamishli in north-eastern Syria, targeting Wahid al-Shammri, an ISIS official known to facilitate the smuggling of weapons and fighters to support ISIS operations. During the operation, the target person was killed and one of his comrades was injured,” says the US Central Command.
CENTCOM added that no US forces or civilians were killed or injured in the operation.
Three defense officials told CNN that the weapons smuggled into the targets were used to support ISIS operations.
One of the defense officials said the strike was a unilateral US operation and did not involve the coalition to defeat ISIS. US special operations forces used helicopters in the operation.
The de-confliction line was not used to notify Russia in advance of the operation, one official said, because of both the location of the raid and its sensitivity.
“USCENTCOM is committed to our allies and partners in the lasting defeat of ISIS,” CENTCOM spokesman Joe Buccino said in a statement.
Earlier on Thursday, the Pentagon said a high-ranking ISIS official had been targeted, but declined to provide further details.
Syrian state television said on Telegram that a US operation in northeastern Syria had killed one person and accused the US of “kidnapping” several people.
The US has gone after several top ISIS officials in Syria this year. In February, the US launched a strike in northwestern Syria that killed ISIS leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi after he blew himself up. It was the biggest attack in Syria since the 2019 operation that killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Qurayshi was named the leader of the terrorist group in November 2019, at the same time that ISIS confirmed the death of Baghdadi.
The US had known his location for several months before the attack, officials said. He was holed up on the third floor of a building with his family, running the terrorist group’s operations through a network of messengers. His replacement, who lived on the second floor, was also killed in the attack.
Since March, the leader of ISIS has been Abu al-Hasan al-Hashimi al-Qurashi, the group has reported, but this is believed to be an assumed name.
Months after the Quraysh attack, the US-led Joint Task Force to Fight ISIS arrested another top ISIS leader in Syria, Hani Ahmed al-Kurdi, known as Salim. And in July, the US carried out a drone strike in northwestern Syria that killed Maher al-Agal, the leader of ISIS in Syria.
The operation in Syria comes despite the Biden administration’s attempts to pull the military away from the Middle East – and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – and the US faces future challenges in an increasingly strong China and a poised Russia. to use force against the neighbors.
After defeating the self-proclaimed caliphate ISIS in 2019, the group has sought to rally steadily in an attempt to challenge the US-led coalition to defeat ISIS. These efforts have included numerous attempts to attack the al-Hol camp in Syria, which houses around 60,000 people. ISIS sees the displaced persons camp as a recruiting ground.
Last month, ISIS attempted a suicide attack on the camp, rigging two vehicles with explosives, according to US Central Command. One vehicle detonated early, while the other was detonated by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.
This story has been updated with additional reports.