WASHINGTON – U.S. special operations forces in the early hours Saturday killed Abu Sayyaf, one of the leaders of the jihadist Islamic State, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced Saturday.
“Last night, at the direction of the Commander in Chief (U.S. President Barack Obama), I ordered U.S. special operations forces to conduct an operation in al-Amr in eastern Syria to capture an ISIL senior leader known as Abu Sayyaf and his wife Umm Sayyaf,” Carter said in a communique.
During the operation, the Islamic State leader lost his life, while his wife was captured and placed in the custody of U.S. forces in Iraq.
Abu Sayyaf was implicated in IS military operations and also directed the illegal oil and gas operations for the jihadist group while handling its finances, according to Carter.
The U.S. also suspects that his wife “played an important role in ISIL’s terrorist activities, and may have been complicit in what appears to have been the enslavement of a young Yezidi woman rescued last night,” the defense secretary said.
In another communique, the White House confirmed that “the president authorized this operation upon the unanimous recommendation of his national security team.”
“This operation was conducted with the full consent of Iraqi authorities and, like our existing airstrikes against ISIL in Syria, consistent with domestic and international law,” White House National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said.
According to the United States government, no American was killed or wounded in the military operation.
Last summer IS took control Mosul, the second-largest city in Iraq, as well as a number of regions in the northern part of the country and in neighboring Syria, territories that it has proclaimed a caliphate.
The United States launched a bombing offensive last year against Islamic State positions.
The U.S. began its campaign of airstrikes unilaterally in August 2014 and limited it to Iraq, but later an international coalition was formed, extending the action to Syria as Operation Inherent Resolve.