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America and its allies continue to chip away at ISIS with latest raids

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A helicopter raid on January 18 by U.S. Special Forces and partner Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in an unnamed area of Syria ended with the arrest of an ISIS militant who was described as a global recruiter for the terrorist organization. 

U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) released a statement the following day announcing the raid and the capture of the unnamed ISIS operative. This global recruiter had also been involved in planning multiple ISIS operations. 

There were no civilian or friendly casualties, CENTCOM said.

“The capture of this ISIS operative will disrupt the terrorist organization’s threatening U.S. citizens, our partners, and innocent civilians,” said Colonel Joe Buccino, CENTCOM spokesperson and it affirms U.S. resolve to destroy ISIS.

ISIS continues to represent a threat to American and its partners in the region, Buccino added.

Related: ISIS has access to thousands of recruits in Syria, according to the US

In late December, after a surge in ISIS attacks, SDF announced “Operation Al-Jazeera Thunderbolt,” to target terrorist sleeper cells in the areas of al-Hol and Tal Hamis in eastern Syria; U.S. Special Forces will also participate in the operation.

ISIS once occupied vast areas of Iraq and Syria in a self-styled “caliphate.” But after the U.S. partnered with the SDF the terrorist organization was driven back, losing its last stronghold in the region in 2019. Since then, they’ve been moved out into the desert areas and reduced to conducting hit-and-run attacks on civilians. American and SDF continue to attacks on ISIS fighters and high-value targets. 

SDF troops in Deir ez-Zor, Syria, in 2018. (Voice of America)

The U.S. has kept about 900 troops in Syria since 2015. They’ve partnered with the mostly-Kurdish SDF in trying to eradicate ISIS, despite the protestations of Syria, and U.S. ally Turkey, which accuses the SDF Kurds of being part of the PKK terrorist organization that operates in Turkey. 

In early December, another joint raid killed two ISIS fighters. During the week of December 20, the U.S.-led coalition conducted a series of helicopter raids that resulted in the capture of six more ISIS fighters. One of the fighters captured was a provincial chief for ISIS, known by the nom de guerre as el-Abayadi. 

Last year in Syria, the U.S. conducted 14 unilateral and 108 partnered operations that resulted in the capture of 215 ISIS operatives and the elimination of 466 more. In Iraq, during the same year, it conducted 191 partnered operations capturing 159 ISI fighters and eliminating at least 220 others.

However, ISIS still has access to thousands of potential recruits in the al-Hol refugee camp in Syria.

Feature Image: Soldiers with Alpha Troop, 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, make their way to a oil production facility to meet with its management team, in Central Command (CENTCOM) area of responsibility, Oct. 27,2020. The soldiers are in Syria to support Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) mission. CJTF remains committed to working by, with and through our partners to ensure the enduring defeat of Daesh. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Jensen Guillory)

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Steve Balestrieri