On May 17, a combined Special Operations raid killed two regional Islamic State leaders in eastern Syria.
The assault force was comprised of a U.S. Special Operations element and a Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) partner force.
In a press release, Operation Inherent Resolve identified the two ISIS leaders as Ahmad ‘Isa Ismail al-Zawi, AKA Abu Ali al-Baghdadi – no relation to the former leader of ISIS – and Ahmad ‘Abd Muhammad Hasan al-Jughayfi, AKA Abu Ammar.
Al-Baghdadi was the Wali (governor) of North Baghdad and the middleman between ISIS HQ and the fighters on the ground in that region. Abu Ammar was responsible for coordinating the acquisition and movement of materiel and men across the Syrian-Iraqi border.
The Operation Inherent Resolve press release stated that “The removal of these ISIS leaders will disrupt future attacks against innocent civilians and our security partners and in the region. Due to the relentless pressure maintained by the SDF, ISIS’s remaining leadership in the area continues to dwindle.”
The important thing, however, is for the SDF to be able to conduct operations unilaterally and with as little Coalition support as possible. That will ensure a sustainable and viable solution to the ISIS problem. Unlike Afghanistan, where the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) are having great difficulty in conducting operations without any U.S. or Coalition support, the Kurdish-led SDF has proven a valuable partner force to the U.S.-led coalition.
The “Coalition partner forces in Iraq and Syria maintain continuous pressure on ISIS to prevent a reemergence, and the Coalition continues to support them with high-level advising, intelligence sharing, and air support,” added the press release.
Last October, ISIS was dealt a major blow when Delta Force conducted a raid that killed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, deep inside Syria. Follow-on strikes further weakened the already-battered terrorist group.
Although ISIS has been officially defeated, there are still pockets of resistance and sleeper cells that threaten to destabilize the region. The additional wave of instability that was caused by Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria only supported those efforts of ISIS, both directly and indirectly. Those ISIS units that have been left focus on suicide bombings, guerrilla attacks, and assassinations. A few days ago, in another operation, SDF units raided two targets and arrested three ISIS terrorists who were running an assassination operation that was targeting Kurdish fighters.