This is big news on a number of fronts. Overnight, United States special forces went into Syria to attempt to capture senior ISIS commander Abu Sayyaf and wound up killing him, but capturing his wife. CNN has the early details.
U.S. Special Operations forces killed a senior ISIS commander during a raid intended to capture him in eastern Syria overnight Friday to Saturday, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said.
The ISIS commander, Abu Sayyaf, fought capture and was killed in the raid in al-Amr, he said in a statement.
Carter said he had ordered the raid at the direction of President Barack Obama. All the U.S. troops involved returned safely.
“Abu Sayyaf was involved in ISIL’s military operations and helped direct the terrorist organization’s illicit oil, gas, and financial operations as well,” he said.
His wife, an Iraqi named Umm Sayyaf, was captured and is currently in military detention in Iraq, National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said in a statement.
What makes this such a win is that Sayyaf wasn’t just a battle commander for ISIS. You can always find somebody else to pick up a gun and go try to kill the infidels. Instead, Sayyaf was a top money guy for the terrorists, in charge of trafficking their oil and gas on the black market along with who knows what other revenue sources they rely on to fund their fighters and keep their operation running. Also, much of Sayyaf’s gear was captured – papers, computers, phones – and he was supposedly in direct contact with Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, coordinating the group’s efforts at the highest levels. Even if this doesn’t lead directly to the death or capture of Baghdadi in the short term, it’s probably a serious blow to their operational abilities.
The other interesting and soon to be controversial aspect of this raid was who did it and where it took place. Sayyaf was deep inside ISIS controlled territory on the eastern edge of Syria. It was a very risky exercise and, had everything gone pear shaped, could have resulted in a horrific loss of American lives. Which brings us to the subject of who did it. This wasn’t some coalition effort with Iraqi or other fighters working under our command and control. These were our special forces troops making a fast, hard strike similar to the raid on OBL’s compound. In other words, last night there were American boots on the ground in Syria, albeit briefly. That’s going to raise some questions in the days to come to be sure, but since it seems to have gone off without a hitch I don’t expect the President to be taking any blowback from it.
This all supposedly took place by way of direct orders from the White House, so we’ll probably see Barack Obama briefing the nation before very long. It’s likely going to be a lot easier for people to swallow news of American involvement at this level when we don’t lose any of our troops and the mission is such a rapid, complete success. Well done to our guys. We may never know their names, but it’s another batch of heroes getting the job done.