A US commando kills “a member of the Islamic State” in territory under Syrian control

The United States Armed Forces yesterday killed three individuals in Syria whom they described as “responsible for the Islamic State” (IS). Unusually, one of the two operations, involving three helicopters and fifty soldiers, took place in territory controlled by the government of Bashar al-Assad, south of Qamishli. The other consisted of an airstrike in another area of ​​the north, which caused two other fatalities, one of which would be, according to the Pentagon, “IS number two in Syria.”

According to the same military sources, the deceased in the raid in Hasaka province would be “an IS operative in charge of illegally transporting weapons and combatants.” The US Armed Forces Central Command (CENTCOM) has identified him as Rakan Wahid al Shamri. The same statement announces the arrest of two of his comrades and that a third suffered injuries during the operation, carried out at dawn on Thursday. According to the same source, no exchange of fire.

Instead, according to the local account, broadcast by France Press, the victim called himself Abu Hayel and had arrived not long ago from Tanf, near the Iraqi border.

Also, Damascus sources strongly deny any IS presence in the raided village of Mulok Saray, 14 kilometers south of Qamishli. The American version is also questioned by the testimony of a local, reproduced by France Presse, according to which there would have been an exchange of fire between the American commandos and militias allied with Bashar al-Assad. It should be remembered that the Islamic State has been the fiercest enemy of these militias and of the Syrian army itself since the beginning of the war.

In fact, the Lebanese media related to Hezbollah, which has an armed presence in Syria in support of Bashar al-Assad, go further and speak of the fact that the local armed response forced and accelerated the departure of the Americans.

According to a British intelligence source, the US military would have ordered the neighbors to stay home and turn off the lights through loudspeakers. Next, they would have assaulted one of the houses “without encountering resistance”, killing one of its occupants and kidnapping several of their relatives, including women and children, according to France Presse. Among those captured would also be a local security agent.

Two historical IS leaders, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi, were killed in such airborne operations deployed by the US in 2019 and 2022 in northern Idlib province, mostly under occupation. Turkish military. According to a Syrian military source who requested anonymity from Efe, yesterday’s would have been the first raid of this type perpetrated by the United States in an area in the hands of Damascus.

Qamishli, the closest city, is controlled by the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, but also has a Syrian army presence.

In yesterday’s second operation, a projectile would have killed, according to the Americans, “Abu Ala, number two of the Islamic State in Syria, and Abu Muad al Qahtani”, also presented as a militant of the group.

It should be said that, last month, a US military convoy made up of four armored vehicles and a truck had to turn back when a Syrian checkpoint, in the aforementioned province of Hasaka, stopped them.

In July, a US drone killed a suspected senior IS official near the Turkish border. In June, they allegedly captured a leader of the same organization with the help of a helicopter.

The intensification of the war in Ukraine, with shipments of increasingly sophisticated US weapons, as well as the recent setbacks of the Russian and pro-Russian forces, raise fears of retaliation by Moscow against US military targets, which could also occur through vicarious forces. The US military occupation around Al Tanf – where there are also rebels close to the United States – and the oil fields in northeastern Syria, with less than a thousand soldiers, would be one of its most vulnerable positions.

In the raid outlined above, the United States would not have previously warned Russia to avoid dangerous misunderstandings, as was the rule until now.

On the other hand, the Turkish Defense Ministry said on Friday that it had “neutralized” 18 Kurdish guerrillas in northern Syria.