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Senior Islamic State operative captured in US-led military raid in Syria

BEIRUT (AP) — U.S.-led coalition forces captured a top Islamic State leader Thursday during a military operation in northern Syria, the coalition said.

In a statement, it said the captured leader was an experienced bomber and operational facilitator, describing him as one of the main leaders of the extremist group’s Syrian branch.

The statement did not identify the individual or specify where the raid took place. He said the operation was “successful”, with no civilians injured or casualties among coalition forces.

A monitor of the war in Syria, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said the operation began with two helicopters landing near the targeted area in the village of al-Humaira, about 4 kilometers away ( 2.5 miles) from the Turkish border.

He reported clashes between unknown gunmen hiding in houses in the northern village of Aleppo countryside as they were chased by coalition members. The Observatory is based in Britain and maintains a network of activists on the ground in Syria.

US-backed forces declared victory over Islamic State in March 2019 after recapturing the last piece of territory held by the group in Syria. But ISIS continues to operate and carry out deadly attacks in Iraq and Syria through sleeper cells and maintains several affiliates in various countries.

The coalition has carried out raids in the past to eliminate leaders of the violent group. In February, group leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi blew himself up with members of his family as US forces raided his hideout in Syria.

His predecessor, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, died the same way with his family in 2019 by detonating a suicide vest in a tunnel in northwest Syria during a military operation under the Trump administration.

The IS group, at the height of its power, controlled over 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 northeast Syria housing at least 3,000 IS detainees.



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