On April 17, the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) announced that its forces had killed a senior leader of ISIS during a unilateral helicopter raid in Syria’s northern region.
The raid took place in the Turkish-occupied village of al-Swaidah in the northern Aleppo countryside in the early hours of the morning.
CENTCOM said in an initial statement that the senior terrorist was killed along with two “armed individuals,” adding that its forces suffered no losses in personnel or equipment.
“Though degraded, ISIS remains able to conduct operations within the region with a desire to strike beyond the Middle East,” said General Michael “Erik” Kurilla, CENTCOM commander. “We will continue the relentless campaign against ISIS.”
“This operation reaffirms CENTCOM’s steadfast commitment to the region and the enduring defeat of ISIS,” said Joe Buccino, a CENTCOM spokesman. “We will provide additional details soon.”
In a later statement, CENTCOM identified the slain senior ISIS leader as Abd-al-Hadi Mahmud al-Haji Ali, an operational planner responsible for planning terror attacks in the Middle East and Europe. The command said that the raid was launched after intelligence revealed an ISIS plot to kidnap officials abroad as leverage for ISIS initiatives.
“We know ISIS retains the desire to strike beyond the Middle East, ” said Colonel Joe Buccino, a CENTCOM spokesperson. “This raid deals a significant blow to ISIS operations in the region but does not eliminate ISIS’ capability to conduct operations.”
The two other armed individuals killed during the raid were members of a Turkish-backed armed faction known as the Suqour al-Sham Brigades. The faction said in a statement that its members were killed by mistake and had no connection to Abd-al-Hadi.
U.S. combat drones and special forces target ISIS leaders in northern Syria on a regular basis. Many senior members of the terrorist group are said to be taking shelter in the Turkish-occupied part of the region. The al-Swaida raid was the fourth U.S. operation to target terrorists in areas occupied by the Turkish military and its proxies over the past year.
It’s worth noting that the U.S. stepped up its operations against ISIS in Syria this year in what appears to be an attempt to justify its military presence in the war-torn country.