A force made up of US and coalition forces has reportedly captured a man that is believed to be a senior leader of the Islamic State (ISIS) during a ground raid in northwestern Syria sometime between late Wednesday and early Thursday.
The statement issued by the Coalition forces claimed that the senior ISIS leader was an expert bomb maker and was one of the top leaders of ISIS in the terrorist group’s base in Syria. However, the officials announcing the capture did not clarify any further details about the individual, including the ISIS leader’s name and where the raid occurred. No civilians were reportedly harmed or killed during the raid.
However, a US official has told ABC News that the name of this ISIS leader was “Hani Ahmed al-Kurdi” and that he was an active senior member who planned ISIS operations. Al-Kurdi has since been named by other media outlets as the ISIS leader captured.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported that two helicopters landed near the village of al-Humaira, some 2.5 miles from the Turkish border, where gunshots were exchanged in northern Aleppo. However, we cannot confirm these details at this time.
“Coalition forces detained a senior Daesh leader during an operation in Syria June 16,” Operation Inherent Resolve stated through a release on their website. “The detained individual was assessed to be an experienced bomb maker and facilitator who became one of the group’s top leaders in Syria.”
“The mission was meticulously planned to minimize the risk of collateral damage, particularly any potential harm to civilians. There were no civilians harmed during the operation nor any damage to Coalition aircraft or assets,” they explained.
“Coalition forces will continue to hunt the remnants of Daesh wherever they hide to ensure their enduring defeat.”
The statement refers to ISIS as “Daesh.” As you may have noticed, throughout the years, the media has called this terrorist group many names, including “Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant,” otherwise known as “ISIL” and the “Islamic State” or simply “IS.” Do not be confused, as they all refer to the same terrorist group.
The term “Daesh” is an Arabic acronym formed from the terrorist group’s previous name in Arabic, “al-Dawla al-Islamiya fil Iraq wa al-Sham.” People in the Middle East started calling them that as it sounded unpleasant and sounded similar to an Arabic verb that means “to trample” or “to crush.”
Going back to the US raid in Syria, Commander of the US Central Command Gen. Erik Kurilla stated to the news outlet that ISIS had already degraded throughout the years but still remained a legitimate threat. “We remain dedicated to its defeat. Last night’s operation, which took a senior ISIS operator off the battlefield, demonstrates our commitment to the security of the Middle East and to the enduring defeat of ISIS,” he said to ABC News.
“This operation in northeast Syria demonstrates our commitment to the security of the region and to the enduring defeat of ISIS,” Kurilla added.
Interestingly, two Russian Su-34 fighter jets appeared near the area where the raid occurred. No further details were revealed regarding these planes and what they were doing in the area. However, an unnamed US official said that two American F-16 fighter jets responded when they had detected the two Russian jets. This is highly unusual as Russia and the US, despite their degrading diplomatic relations, coordinate with each other so that they do not accidentally attack each other while conducting operations.
US-led ground forces operations are increasingly rare in northwestern Syria as it is considered diplomatically risky to do so. Furthermore, it is very far from US bases in eastern Syria, which may risk tensions with the Syrian Government.
As Kurilla has said, ISIS had been degraded with its ability to carry out terrorist attacks as it was soundly defeated in 2019. Many also say that ISIS was not defeated but only incapacitated for the meanwhile and was rebuilding its power, which is why the US and anti-ISIS groups keep tabs on the terrorist group and strike when necessary to keep their leadership cut and morale low.
For the most part, ISIS has been notably active in some insurgencies in Iraq and Syria, helping inspire radicals in the West and Southeast Asia to conduct terrorist attacks, some on their behalf and some just heavily inspired.
Last February, US Special Forces under the US Central Command conducted a raid to kill ISIS leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi in Idlib, northwestern Syria. With US forces closing in on his home (or hideout), Al-Qurayshi blew himself up along with those inside the house.
His successor Abu al-Hassan al-Hashimi al-Qurashi (or al-Quarayshi) was arrested last May in Turkey. According to the Turkish authorities, al-Qurashi was captured after intensive police surveillance and intel gathering. The arrest was made without firing a single bullet.