U.S. forces captured an alleged high-ranking member of the ISIS terrorist group on Saturday, Sept. 23, during a helicopter raid in northern Syria.
In a Monday press release, the U.S. Central Command (CENCTOM)—the military component that oversees operations in the Middle East, central, and south Asia—announced its forces had captured Abu Halil al-Fad’ani, a suspected ISIS operational and facilitation official. CENTCOM assessed that al-Fad’ani has had relationships throughout the ISIS network in the region.
“The capture of ISIS officials like al-Fad’ani increases our ability to locate, target, and remove terrorists from the battlefield,” CENTCOM spokesperson Lt. Col. Troy Garlock said in a statement following the helicopter raid. “USCENTCOM remains committed to the enduring defeat of ISIS.”
CENTCOM assessed no civilians were injured or killed during this raid.
NTD News reached out to CENTCOM for additional details about the raid but did not receive a response by the time this article was published.
Counter-ISIS Mission Continues
U.S. forces have been deployed in parts of Iraq and Syria since 2014 as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, the official name for the U.S. military mission to defeat ISIS. Around 2,500 U.S. troops remain in Iraq and around 900 remain in Syria as part of the ongoing military mission.
At its height, ISIS had asserted territorial claims over large portions of northern and western Iraq as well as northeast Syria. Operation Inherent Resolve has worked to degrade the terrorist group and hunt down its leadership, but the mission continues.
CENTCOM forces have conducted dozens of raids and strikes against ISIS targets this year. The military command reported 43 “defeat-ISIS” missions in January, 48 in February, 37 in March, 35 in April, 38 in May, 37 in June, 31 in July, and 36 in August.
CENTCOM reported killing an ISIS senior leader, Khalid ‘Aydd Ahmad al-Jabouri, in an April 4 air strike. The military command reported killing another suspected senior leader, Usamah al-Muhajir, in a July 7 air strike.
U.S. forces successfully captured another suspected ISIS attack facilitator, Hudayfah al Yemeni, and two of his associates, in an April 8 helicopter raid.
U.S. forces attempted another helicopter raid on a suspected ISIS senior leader on April 17, but they were unable to capture their intended target. CENTCOM believes this April 17 raid resulted in the probable death of the mission target, as well as the deaths of two other armed individuals. CENTCOM assessed no U.S. troops or civilians were harmed during the encounter.
While Operation Inherent Resolve has gone after ISIS in Iraq and Syria, the group has spread to other parts of the world. The terrorist group’s Afghanistan branch, known as ISIS-Khorasan (ISIS-K), carried out a suicide bombing in Kabul on Aug. 26, 2021, killing 13 U.S. service members and dozens of civilians as the United States conducted evacuation operations from the country.
Last month, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre confirmed a report that a smuggler with ties to ISIS also helped people illegally cross into the United States from Mexico. At a White House press briefing, Ms. Jean-Pierre told reporters that U.S. intelligence officials had alerted the administration to the smuggling network and “we moved fastly and we successfully disrupted it.” Ms. Jean-Pierre did not specify whether U.S. officials had tracked down the people that this ISIS-linked smuggler had helped move into the country, but said there were no indications that any of those individuals had any connections to terrorist activity.