US Carries Out Raid in Syria Targeting IS Leadership

The United States says it carried out a “successful” raid against Islamic State fighters in eastern Syria, focused on IS leadership.

A Pentagon spokesman, Navy Captain Jeff Davis, said Monday that the operation was carried out in Deir Ezzor province by a U.S. special forces unit tasked with tracking down Islamic State leaders in Syria and Iraq.

He did not say who the targets were, but said a lot of intelligence was gathered during the operation.

Death toll exaggerated

The spokesman said reports by the monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights that 25 Islamic fighters were killed in the operation were exaggerated. He did not say how many people were killed.

The oil-rich region of Deir Ezzor is largely under the control of Islamic State militants and the United States has previously carried out airstrikes and other military action in the region.

The U.S. special forces unit, called the expeditionary task force, has intensified drone strikes and raids in Syria in recent months against Islamic State leaders.

Successful raids against Islamic State

Special forces have carried out several high profile raids against Islamic State militants including an operation in Syria in May 2015 that killed IS commander Abu Sayyaf and an October, 2015 raid in Hawijah, Iraq, that freed 70 hostages held by IS. A Delta Force soldier, 39-year-old Master Sergeant Joshua Wheeler, was killed during that mission.

The raid on Abu Sayyaf also provided a treasure trove of intelligence materials that led to several operations targeting Islamic State’s financial network.