World Bulletin / News Desk
American special operations forces killed a senior ISIL leader in a raid in Syria, U.S. officials said on Saturday, an operation that marked a departure from Washington's strategy of relying primarily on air strikes to target militants there.
Delta Force commandos used UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and V-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft to punch deep intoeastern Syria from Iraq. They engaged in a firefight and hand-to-hand combat with ISIL fighters, killed a key figure i the group named as Abu Sayyaf and captured his wife, U.S. officials said.
The officials described Sayyaf, a Tunisian, as an ISIL commander who helped manage the group's black-market sales of oil and gas to raise funds. The officials said President Barack Obama ordered the overnight operation, which killed about a dozen ISIL fighters and had been planned for several weeks.
Wary of the United States getting pulled deeper into Middle East conflicts, Obama has promised not to commit major ground forces in the fight against ISIL, which has seized swathes of Syria and Iraq. But he has left open the prospect of special forces raids.
It was not immediately clear if this one marked the start of a new chapter in Syria.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter said the operation was intended to capture Abu Sayyaf but he was killed "when he engaged U.S. forces." His wife, Umm Sayyaf, was captured, then placed in U.S. military detention in Iraq and was being questioned about ISIL operations and hostages held by the group.
No U.S. forces were killed or wounded during the operation, Carter said.
"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," Carter said.
ISIL raised their black flag over the local government headquarters in the Iraqi city of Ramadi on Friday and claimed victory after overrunning most of the provincial capital.
U.S. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner said he extended his "gratitude and continued support" for the U.S. troops involved in the Syria raid. But Boehner, a Republican, said he was "gravely concerned" by ISIL's advances in Ramadi, which he said "threatens the stability and sovereignty of Iraq, which is vital toAmerica's interests."
Hawkish Republican critics of Obama, a Democrat, say he has not acted forcefully enough to rein in the rise of ISIL.
GREEN LIGHT FROM OBAMA
White House National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said the Syria raid was conducted "with the full consent of Iraqi authorities." She said the United States did not give any advance warning or coordinate with the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who Washington opposes.
"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," Meehan said.
Meehan said U.S. forces freed a young Yezidi woman "who appears to have been held as a slave" by Abu Sayyaf and his wife. His wife was suspected of playing "an important role in ISIL's terrorist activities," Meehan said.
Saturday's raid followed a summit Obama held at Camp David earlier this week with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab allies who have pressed the United States to be more militarily assertive in Syria, especially in support of moderate rebels seeking to oust Assad.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 16 Mayıs 2015, 21:50