BEIRUT — American and Syrian Kurdish forces detained a militant from the Islamic State group following a helicopter raid in eastern Syria, the U.S. Central Command said in a statement Thursday.
IS sleeper cells continue to carry out deadly attacks in Syria and Iraq. The militant group once ruled large swaths of both countries but lost its last stronghold in 2019. In late December, U.S.-backed, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces announced “Operation Al-Jazeera Thunderbolt,” citing a surge in IS attacks, to target sleeper cells in the areas of al-Hol and Tal Hamis in the country’s east.
CENTCOM did not say where on Wednesday the operation took place. It said there were no civilian casualties, according to an initial assessment of the operation.
It did not identify the Syrian militant, but described the person as a “provincial media and security operative” who was involved in global recruitment and facilitating and planning operations for the group.
“The capture of this ISIS operative will disrupt the terrorist organization’s ability to further plot and carry out global attacks threatening U.S. citizens, or partners and innocent civilians,” CENTCOM spokesperson Col. Joe Buccino said.
There are roughly 900 U.S. troops in Syria, including in the north and farther south and east.
CENTCOM reported conducting some 313 operations against IS in 2022 in Syria and Iraq, mostly in cooperation with the Syrian Democratic Forces forces. According to a CENTCOM statement, 215 militants from the Islamic State group were arrested and 466 were killed in Syria.