Iraqi forces in coordination with U.S.-backed Syrian forces have captured five senior Islamic State group leaders, the U.S.-led coalition said Thursday in a statement.
The arrest was a “significant blow to Daesh,” coalition spokesman Army Col. Ryan Dillon said, using the Arabic acronym for the extremist group.
ISIS fighters no longer control significant pockets of territory inside Iraq, but do maintain a grip inside Syria along Iraq’s border.
The U.S. -led coalition supported Iraqi ground forces and Syrian fighters known as the Syrian Democratic Forces in the more than three-year war against IS.
After Iraqi forces retook the Iraqi city of Mosul from IS last summer, Syrian forces on the other side of the border claimed a series of swift victories, but the campaign was stalled recently when Turkey launched a cross-border raid into Syria’s north.
Earlier this month the coalition announced a drive to clear the final pockets of IS territory inside Syria.
U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted about the anti-IS raid Thursday, saying those arrested were the “five most wanted” IS “leaders.”
It was unclear what criteria, if any, Trump was using to describe the IS operatives as the “five most wanted.”
A U.S. national security official said there were no indications that the operation had captured Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of IS who has long been the coalition’s top target. The official wasn’t authorized to discuss the targets publicly and requested anonymity.
Last year the Pentagon said that there were “some indicators” that al-Baghdadi was still alive a month after Russia claimed to have killed him in a strike near the Syrian city of Raqqa.
None of the statements released Thursday from the president or the coalition named the IS fighters arrested.
IS fighters swept into Iraq in the summer of 2014, taking control of nearly a third of the country. At the height of the group’s power their self-proclaimed caliphate stretched from the edges of Aleppo in Syria to just north of the Iraqi capital Baghdad.
Now, with the group’s physical caliphate largely destroyed, anti-IS operations are increasingly focused on targeting the extremists’ remaining leadership.
Is trump getting credit for the capture of bin laden ?
Among the first steps to do is the render them immobile so they cannot escape or be somehow swiped away. next, interrogate them with whatever means of torture are appropriate to find out information that will assist in the rest of the decimating of ISIS. Next, make sure they can no longer be counted among the living. Us Americans need to have photographic evidence of their extermination, regardless of what means of death penalty are used. We cannot be left with the suspicion that Bin Laden is still alive and well somewhere because we never got to see his murder or the disposal at sea.
Meine freunds don’t haack President Trump!!
And trump is announcing it because he’s Iraqi?
bin laden was captured?hes playing golf with his friend Obama
they should be beheaded!!!!!