BEIRUT ( Associated Press) – US-led coalition forces on Thursday captured a senior Islamic State leader in a military operation in northern Syria, the coalition said.
In a statement, it said the captured leader was a veteran bomb maker and operational facilitator, describing him as one of the top leaders of the extremist group’s Syria branch.
The statement did not identify the person nor did it say where the raid took place. It said the operation was “successful” with no civilian casualties and no injuries to coalition forces.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the Syrian war watchdog, said the operation began with two helicopters landing near the target area in the village of al-Humayra, about 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) from the Turkish border.
It reported clashes of unidentified gunmen hiding in homes in the village of the northern Aleppo countryside, as they were chased by coalition members. The observatory is based in the UK and maintains a network of activists on the ground in Syria.
US-backed forces declared victory over Islamic State in March 2019 after retaking the last of the group’s occupied territory in Syria. But IS continues to operate and carry out deadly attacks through sleeper cells in both Iraq and Syria and maintains several allies in various countries.
The coalition has already conducted raids to oust the leaders of the violent faction. In February, group leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Quraishi blew himself up with members of his family as US forces raided their Syria hideout.
His predecessor, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, died in 2019 with his family by detonating a suicide vest in a tunnel in northwest Syria just as a military operation unfolded during the Trump administration.
At the height of its power, the IS group controlled more than 40,000 square miles stretching from Syria to Iraq and ruled over 8 million people. Its attacks in the region included a major attack last month to seize a prison in northeastern Syria to capture at least 3,000 IS prisoners.