US says its special forces kill senior ISIL leader in Syria raid

American special operations forces killed a senior Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) leader who helped direct the group’s oil, gas and financial operations during a raid in eastern Syria, USofficials said on Saturday. The White House said President Barack Obama ordered the overnight raid that killed the man identified as Abu Sayyaf. US officials said his wife, Umm Sayyaf, was captured in the raid and was being held in Iraq. This was the first known US special forces operation inside Syria apart from a failed secret effort to rescue a number of US and other foreign hostages held by ISIL in northeastern Syria last year. White House National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said in a statement that US personnel based out of Iraq conducted the operation in al-Amr in eastern Syria. quotDuring the course of the operation, Abu Sayyaf was killed when he engaged US forces,quot Meehan said. quotThe 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,quot Meehan said. Meehan said the operation was conducted quotwith the full consent of Iraqi authoritiesquot and quotconsistent with domestic and international law.quot The White House said the US did not inform Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government in advance of the raid, or coordinate with Damascus. Shortly before the US announcement, Syrian state television said the Syrian army killed an ISIL leader responsible for oil-related affairs, identifying him as Abu al-Taym al-Saudi. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said that US special operations forces conducted the operation targeting Abu Sayyaf and his wife. Carter said Abu Sayyaf was involved in the militant organization’s military operations and helped direct its quotillicit oil, gas and financial operations as well.quot Carter said the wife quotplayed an important role in ISIL’s terrorist activities. Meehan said during the operation US forces freed a young Yezidi woman quotwho appears to have been held as a slave by the couple.quot Meehan said the wife is now in US military detention in Iraq. No US forces were killed or wounded during the operation, Carter said. quotThe 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,quot Carter said. US and Arab forces have been carrying out almost daily air raids against hardline groups in Syria including ISIL since last September, and US-led forces are also targeting the group in Iraq.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman