(The Hill) — The U.S. military has captured six Islamic State operatives over the course of three helicopter raids in Syria this week, U.S. Central Command announced Tuesday.
The raids, which took place over the past 48 hours in eastern Syria, included the capture of al-Zubaydi, a senior ISIS official who U.S. officials claim was involved in planning and enabling terrorist attacks in the country.
It is the second such operation in just over a week, with a helicopter raid in the early hours of Dec. 11 killing a lead ISIS province official and his associate in eastern Syria.
This week’s raids included U.S. Special Operations forces as well as personnel from the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), who helped American troops defeat and push ISIS from Syrian territory in 2019.
“These partnered operations reaffirm CENTCOM’s steadfast commitment to the region and the enduring defeat of ISIS,” CENTCOM Commander Gen. Michael “Erik” Kurilla, said in the release. “The capture of these ISIS operatives will disrupt the terrorist organization’s ability to further plot and carry out destabilizing attacks.”
Initial assessment indicated that no civilians were killed or injured, according to the statement.
This month’s raids mark the first major American counterterrorism operation in northeastern Syria since the U.S. military in October conducted two strikes against the terrorist group, killing an ISIS weapons smuggler.
Also late last month, ISIS announced that its leader, later identified by U.S. officials as Abu al-Hassan al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, had been killed in battle in mid-October.
The U.S. military, which has several hundred American forces in northeastern Syria near the Turkish border, continues to work with SDF to keep Islamic State fighters at bay in the region.
NATO ally Turkey, however, in recent weeks has hit the Kurdish-led forces with airstrikes and last month threatened a ground invasion as the country views the SDF as part of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, a group considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. and Turkey.
The Turkish aggression led Washington to warn Ankara against any new military operation in Syria.