Jihadist leader captured in US operation in Syria

The anti-jihadist coalition led by the United States and whose forces are deployed in Syria and neighboring Iraq, announced the capture of the leader, presented as a “artificer” and one of the main leaders of ISIS in Syria. She did not provide her identity or say by whom the operation was carried out.

‘Captured man is a top ISIS official’told AFP the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (OSDH), a Syrian NGO which has a network of sources across Syria at war.

The operation “led by the Americans was quick and easy. It took place in the village of Hmeirah, northeast of the city of Aleppo and four kilometers from the border with Turkey”said the director of the OSDH, Rami Abdel Rahmane.

“Two of the helicopters involved in the raid landed near the village and an exchange of fire ensued between the houses” of the small village made up of about thirty dwellings, before the man was arrested, he added, without mentioning any victims.

The operation was “meticulously prepared to minimize the risk of collateral damage, in particular any potential harm to civilians”said the anti-jihadist coalition in a press release.

Residents told AFP that the captured man was nicknamed “Faisal” and had recently come to the village from the northern Syrian city of Raqa.

A few minutes

Several helicopters headed overnight towards the village of Hmeirah, noted an AFP correspondent nearby. The operation lasted only a few minutes but the helicopters then flew over the region controlled by rebel groups loyal to Turkey, in a country fragmented after the start of the war in 2011.

US special forces operations in Syria are rare.

The most recent was on February 3. ISIS leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurachi was then killed in a US operation in northwestern Syria, more than two years after his predecessor Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed also in a US raid in Syria.

After a meteoric rise in power in 2014 in Iraq and Syria and the conquest of vast territories, the IS saw its self-proclaimed “caliphate” collapse under the impact of successive offensives. He was defeated in 2017 in Iraq and in 2019 in Syria.

But the Sunni extremist group responsible for multiple abuses continues to carry out attacks through sleeper cells in both countries.

Abu Hassan al-Hachimi al-Qurachi, the new leader of IS, has so far made little headlines.

IS had promised to avenge Baghdadi’s death, calling in particular on its supporters to resume their attacks in Europe.

The complex war in Syria, involving different protagonists, has killed around 500,000 people since 2011.

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