SOHR: The arrest of a prominent leader of the Islamic State during a US operation in Syria
The international coalition forces led by Washington arrested at dawn on Thursday a prominent leader experienced in making bombs in the Islamic State organization during an airdrop operation in northern Syria.
Correspondents to AFP and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that coalition helicopters landed for a few minutes in the village of al-Humaira in an area under the control of Turkish forces and Syrian factions loyal to Ankara in the northwestern countryside of Aleppo.
In a statement, the coalition announced that its forces had captured, during a “successful operation,” an unnamed person, who is “an experienced bomb maker and operations facilitator who has become one of the senior leaders of the ISIS branch in Syria,” noting that “the mission was meticulously planned to minimize the risks of collateral damage or harm to civilians.” “.
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There were no civilian or coalition casualties, according to the statement.
An official in the coalition later clarified to AFP that the name of the arrested leader is Hani Ahmed al-Kurdi, known as “the Wali of Raqqa”, which was considered the most prominent stronghold of the Islamic State in Syria.
In the town of Humaira, just four kilometers from the border with Turkey, an AFP correspondent reported that Turkish forces had imposed a security cordon on the area where the landing took place. He said that several helicopters hovered over the village after midnight on Wednesday and Thursday before turning back.
“At about 00:30 (21:30 GMT), an airdrop took place on a house on the outskirts of the village that belongs to a displaced person from Aleppo,” Muhammad Yousef, a resident of the area who went to the targeted house after the landing, told AFP.
In this undated photo released by the “Raqqa Media Center” in territories controlled by the “Islamic State” organization on Monday, June 30, 2014, fighters of the organization appear on tanks during a march in Raqqa, Syria. (AP Photo/Raqqa Media Center, File)
“About eight planes flew for more than an hour and a half when I left the airspace, we headed home, and we found women tied up and children in the vineyard,” he added. The women were quoted as saying that the coalition forces arrested a “young man named Fawaz.”
Other residents of the village said that about six women and three young men were living in the house with an old man, without knowing their relationship. They said that they were not used to mixing with the villagers.
According to eyewitnesses, a Syrian faction loyal to Ankara arrested the other two young men after the landing operation.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights stated that two helicopters landed in the small village a few minutes before taking off again, indicating that limited gunshots were heard between the houses during the landing process.
The director of the observatory, Rami Abdel Rahman, said that “the American operation was quick and easy,” noting that the detainee was “one of the leaders of the first row in the organization,” without being able to determine his identity.
Since 2014, the international coalition in Iraq and Syria has been waging a campaign against the Islamic State, which culminated in March 2019 with the announcement by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, led by Kurdish fighters, to eliminate the “caliphate” after the end of the last battles against the organization in the border village of Baghouz with Iraq.
Since then, the organization’s fighters in Syria have retreated mainly to the Syrian Badia, which extends between the governorates of Homs (central) and Deir ez-Zor on the border with Iraq, and many are hiding in different villages and regions.
pursuit of leaders
Since the announcement of the elimination of the “caliphate,” the international coalition has been pursuing the leaders of the organization and carrying out operations to arrest them, whether it is in Deir ez-Zor in the east or in other areas in northern and northwestern Syria.
The American forces succeeded in arresting leaders in several operations, most notably the two leaders of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, were killed in October 2019 and Abu Ibrahim al-Qurashi last February in their hideouts in Idlib Governorate (northwest).
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the ‘Islamic State’, gives a sermon at a mosque in Mosul, Iraq. (screenshot: YouTube)
The two leaders blew themselves up during the two operations that took place in the areas controlled by the Headquarters for the Liberation of Al-Sham (formerly Al-Nusra).
After the killing of Abu Ibrahim al-Qurashi, the extremist organization announced its new leader, Abu al-Hassan al-Hashemi al-Qurashi, to be the third leader of the organization since 2014, when he declared the “caliphate state” and controlled large areas in Syria and neighboring Iraq.
The organization vowed to “revenge” for the killing of its leader, especially in Europe, which is preoccupied with the ongoing war in Ukraine, in which it has adopted several attacks over the past years, whether they were bombings, knife attacks, run-downs, or shootings.
In Syria, hidden ISIS fighters continue to launch attacks against Kurdish fighters or Syrian regime forces, often with improvised explosive devices or assassinations.
In addition to the international coalition’s pursuit of the leaders of the organization, the Russian planes supporting the regime forces launch air strikes against the organization’s elements in the desert.