US commandos kill Islamic State leader in Syria

11 January 2017

United States Special Operations forces launched a ground raid that killed an Islamic State leader in eastern Syria on Sunday, the Pentagon said, which showed that the operations against the militants were not just restricted to airstrikes.

A defence department spokesman, Captain Jeff Davis, confirmed on Monday that the operation had occurred. However, he dismissed a report by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group based in London, that around 25 fighters had been killed in a two-hour raid in al-Kubar, a village in Deir al-Zour Province.

Saying that the figure overstated the casualties by ''orders of magnitude,'' he declined to say how many militants had been killed. He added that no fighters had been detained in the operation, which did not involve rescuing any hostages, contrary to what some news reports indicated earlier on Monday.

The New York Times reported a senior defence department official as saying on the condition of anonymity that the target of the raid was a midlevel Islamic State leader. US commandos were trying to capture and interrogate them. However, the suspect and another person were killed in the car in which they were travelling, in a firefight with the helicopter-borne commandos.

Meanwhile, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) of northern Syria have issued a statement distancing themselves from the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and affirming they were a Syrian force, tied to the Syrian land.

''We are a Kurdish, Arabic, Turkmen and Assyrian force from Syria under the banner of the Syrian Democratic Forces. We affirm that we are not part of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) as claimed by some regional countries,'' reads the statement released by the SDF on social media on Tuesday.

The SDF was receiving US-led coalition air support, training, and advice in the war against ISIS and the Syrian Arab Coalition within the SDF was also receiving arms. The support the SDF received from the US had soured relations between Washington and Ankara.

The SDF was currently fighting the extremist group in Raqqa Province with the ultimate aim of liberating the city of Raqqa.

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