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US Special Forces Kill IS Commander in Syria, Capture Wife

  • VOA Staff

FILE: An Islamist rebel fighter walks as smoke rises after what activists said was an airstrike by forces of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad at Qarmeed camp, after Islamist rebel fighters took control of the area, April 27, 2015.

FILE: An Islamist rebel fighter walks as smoke rises after what activists said was an airstrike by forces of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad at Qarmeed camp, after Islamist rebel fighters took control of the area, April 27, 2015.

U.S. special forces have killed a top Islamic State commander and captured his wife in eastern Syria, the White House and Pentagon said Saturday.

The overnight raid targeted a man known as Abu Sayyaf, who Washington describes as being involved in the militant group's military and financial operations, including the black market oil operation that funds much of the organization's activities.

The White House said U.S. President Barack Obama late Friday directed the Pentagon to send U.S. personnel based in Iraq to conduct the operation in al-Amr.

The IS leader’s wife, known as Umm Sayyaf, is in U.S. military detention in Iraq. During the raid, a young Yazidi woman held by the couple was also freed.

No U.S. personnel were killed or injured in the operation, according to National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan.

"The operation represents another significant blow to ISIL, and it is a reminder that the United States will never waver in denying safe haven to terrorists who threaten our citizens, and those of our friends and allies," U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said in a statement.

The U.S. and several partner countries have conducted daily airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria and Iraq for months, but have strictly limited the participation of ground forces. The coalition carried out a combined 21 aerial raids overnight.

U.S. officials said the raid that netted the commander was not a result of cooperation with President Bashar Assad's government.

However, Syrian state media said government forces also targeted IS militants in the al-Omar area east of Deir Ezzor, killing a "large number" of fighters and a senior Islamic State leader. It identified the commander as Abu al-Teem al-Saudi, a national of Saudi Arabia.

The Britain-based Syria Observatory for Human Rights confirmed an oil field attack but did not attribute responsibility for the 19 people it reported were killed there.

The Islamic State group took control of major oil fields in Syria in July, when militants overran northern and eastern sections of the country.

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