Abu Sayyaf: U.S. Special Forces kill senior ISIS commander in Syria raid.

U.S. Special Forces Kill Senior ISIS Commander in Syria Raid

U.S. Special Forces Kill Senior ISIS Commander in Syria Raid

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May 16 2015 10:19 AM

U.S. Special Forces Kill Senior ISIS Commander in Syria Raid

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A general view shows heavy smoke rising after rebel fighters reportedly fired mortar shells targeting sites belonging to Syrian regime forces in Arbeen, on the outskirts of the capital, Damascus, on May 16, 2015.

Photo by Abd Doumany/AFP/Getty Images

U.S. Special Operations forces carried out a rare ground operation in eastern Syria late Friday that ended with the death of a senior ISIS leader while his wife was captured. The man identified as Abu Sayyaf was described as a leader who played a “senior role” overseeing the group’s oil and gas operations that provide a key source of revenue for its terrorist activities, according to a statement by White House National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan. President Obama had ordered the raid to capture the ISIS leader but “during the course of the operation, Abu Sayyaf was killed when he engaged U.S. forces.”

The forces then captured Umm Sayyaf, the leader’s wife who is also believed to play an important role in ISIS. “We are working to determine an ultimate disposition for the detainee that best supports the national security of the United States and of our allies and partners, consistent with domestic and international law,” Meehan said. The raid also freed a young Yazidi woman who was apparently being held by the couple as a slave. “We intend to reunite her with her family as soon as feasible,” notes the statement.

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Although strikes have been carried out against ISIS militants in Syria since last year, this marks only the second time that troops have carried out a ground raid, notes the Associated Press. “The operation represents another significant blow to ISIL, and it is a reminder that the United States will never waver in denying safe haven to terrorists who threaten our citizens, and those of our friends and allies,” according to a statement issued by Defense Secretary Ash Carter.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the Today’s Papers column from 2006 to 2009. Follow him on Twitter.