US military says ‘senior’ ISIL official Hamza al-Homsi was killed in helicopter raid in northeastern Syria.
The United States military has said it killed a “senior” ISIL (ISIS) leader in a raid in northeastern Syria as Washington continues its targeting of the group.
The Middle East-based US Central Command (CENTCOM) of the American military announced the operation on Friday, saying that four soldiers were injured during the raid, which was carried out in coordination with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
The military said “an explosion on target resulted in four US servicemembers and one working dog wounded” during a helicopter raid in northeastern Syria on Thursday.
“The targeted ISIS senior leader, Hamza al-Homsi, was killed,” CENTCOM said in a statement without providing further details about al-Homsi.
The four soldiers and the dog are receiving treatment in a US medical facility in Iraq, it added without describing their conditions.
The raid came less than a month after US forces killed Bilal al-Sudani, an ISIL leader in Somalia, whom Washington described as a “key facilitator for ISIS’s global network”.
US forces killed ISIL’s first top leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in a raid in northern Syria in 2019. His successor Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi was also killed in Syria in a similar US operation last year.
ISIL controlled large swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria from 2014 until its territorial defeat late in 2017. During that time, the group, which had declared a “caliphate” and inspired attacks on civilian targets across the world, attracted thousands of foreign fighters, including from Europe and the US.
Remaining ISIL cells have continued to carry out occasional attacks against SDF and Syrian government targets. At the same time, the US, which has maintained a military presence in Syria, regularly conducts deadly raids against alleged ISIL officials.
Washington has said its primary military goal in Syria is ensuring ISIL’s lasting defeat. But analysts said American troops also aimed to counter Iranian influence in the country.
ISIL gained a foothold in Syria during the country’s conflict, which began as a popular uprising in 2011 but turned into a protracted war that has killed hundreds of thousands of people.
Although the country has not seen major battles in recent months, Syria remains fragmented between government forces allied with Iran and Russia, the US-backed SDF and various rebel groups.
Amid devastating earthquakes that struck the Syria-Turkey border region earlier this month, Washington has said it is committed to helping the Syrian people through non-governmental organisations but ruled out contacts with the government of President Bashar al-Assad.