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US Special Operation Forces and SDF partners capture more ISIS terrorists in Syria

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On January 21, U.S. Special Operations Forces and partner forces captured two ISIS terrorists and a third associate, during a helicopter raid in eastern Syria.

The helicopter raid and subsequent ground assault left one civilian wounded. But that person was escorted to and treated at a local medical facility before being returned to his family, according to a statement by US Central Command (CENTCOM).

CENTCOM didn’t give the location of the base that the American special operators came from nor did it disclose which was the partner force. However, since the raid took place in eastern Syria, the partner force was probably the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which the US has partnered with to defeat ISIS. 

The joint operation captured Abdallah Hamid Muslih al-Maddad, also known as Abu Hamza al-Suri, and described as an “ISIS facilitator,” and Husam Hamid al-Muslih al-Maddad, al-Khayr, who was described as a logistician. A third ISIS member who was not named by American officials and was described only as an “associate,” was also taken prisoner.

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

“This operation reaffirms CENTCOM’s steadfast commitment to the region and the enduring defeat of ISIS,” Colonel Joe Buccino, a CENTCOM spokesman, said in a released statement. 

“The capture will disrupt the terrorist organization’s ability to further plot and carry out attacks that threaten regional security and stability.”

“ISIS represents a threat to our partners and to the people of Iraq and Syria and beyond. Our mission to defeat ISIS alongside our Syrian Democratic Forces partners continues,” he added.

This latest raid came on the heels of a drone attack on the base used by the U.S. and its partner forces just two days before. No Americans but two Syrians were wounded in that attack.

US and partner forces stay active against ISIS

An instructor with the Syrian Democratic Forces observes a Syrian Arab trainee clear his rifle during small arms training in Northern Syria, July 31, 2017. Syrian Arabs who comprise the Syrian Arab Coalition, a component of the SDF, are fighting to expel ISIS and regain control of their homes. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Mitchell Ryan)

In December, the Kurdish SDF along with U.S. Special Forces conducted Operation Al-Jazeera Thunderbolt to target terrorist sleeper cells in the areas of al-Hol and Tal Hamis in eastern Syria after ISIS began a surge of terrorist attacks.

ISIS’ self-styled “caliphate” once occupied a wide swath of area in Iraq and Syria. But after the U.S. partnered with the mainly Kurdish SDF in 2015, things began to change. By 2019, the American-SDF coalition had run ISIS out of its last stronghold in the region. Since then, ISIS has been reduced to hit-and-run attacks on civilians, while the U.S. and SDF have conducted attacks on ISIS groups of fighters and high-value targets. 

In early December, another joint raid killed two ISIS fighters and 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 identified as a provincial chief for ISIS, known by the nom de guerre of el-Abayadi. 

Last year, the joint forces conducted 313 operations against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Those operations resulted in 686 ISIS fighters killed and 374 others detained; there were no American troop casualties.

Feature Image: U.S. Marine with 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, assigned to Special Purpose Marine-Air Ground Task Force – Crisis Response – Central Command 20.2, fires his M4 carbine at targets during a combat marksmanship range in Syria, Aug. 21, 2020. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Brendan Custer)

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Steve Balestrieri