U.S. special operations forces based in Iraq conducted a cross-border raid into eastern Syria and killed senior ISIS leader Abu Sayyaf, said to be responsible for major Islamic State financial operations, including the sale of oil and gas assets.
According to the White House, the goal of the operation was to take Abu Sayyaf alive, but he “engaged U.S. forces” and was killed during the firefight.
“His wife, Umm Sayyaf, was captured and is being held in U.S. detention in Iraq,” reports National Journal. “The White House said U.S. forces freed a young Yezidi woman, who officials believe was held as a slave by the couple, and said it intends to reunite her with her family ‘as soon as feasible.'”
Happily, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter reports that no American troops were killed or injured during the raid. He said the captured Umm Sayyaf was no bystander to her husbands nefarious activities, but played an important role in “terrorist activities,” and was likely “complicit in what appears to have been the enslavement” of the young Yezidi woman rescued by U.S. forces.
CBS News learned from Pentagon officials that about a dozen ISIS militants were killed during the raid. “There were women and children at the site, but none of them were injured, the officials said.”
The CBS report also reveals that the raid to capture the Sayyafs had been in the works for quite some time, with American special operators “infiltrated into Iraq over the past couple of weeks as they prepared for the mission.” (Actually, since the team was based in Iraq and the raid was conducted in Syria, that’s probably supposed to say “infiltrated into Syria” or “infiltrated into ISIS territory.”)
“As Commander-in-Chief, the President is grateful to the brave U.S. personnel who carried out this complex mission as well as the Iraqi authorities for their support of the operation and for the use of their facilities, which contributed to its success,” said a statement from the White House.
“The President authorized this operation upon the unanimous recommendation of his national security team and as soon as we had developed sufficient intelligence and were confident the mission could be carried out successfully and consistent with the requirements for undertaking such operations,” said National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan, as reported by the Jerusalem Post.
Meehan went on to say that the operation was conducted “with the full consent of Iraqi authorities,” and in accordance with both American and international law.