The Corner

U.S. Boots on Syrian Ground: ISIS Leader Killed in Raid

United States Special Operations forces killed a top commander of the Islamic State in Syria on Friday. In addition to participating in terrorist operations, the commander, Abu Sayyaf, managed the jihadist organization’s oil and gas commerce. He is also suspected of complicity in ISIS’s enslavement of a young Yazidi woman who was apparently rescued by the U.S. forces.

The New York Times has just reported that defense secretary Ashton Carter announced the raid in a statement early Saturday. According to the Defense Department, American commandos entered Syria from Iraq with a mission to capture Abu Sayyaf and his wife, Umm Sayyaf. Abu Sayyaf was killed and his wife was captured. No Americans were killed or injured in the operation.

Bernadette Meehan, a spokeswoman for the Obama administration’s National Security Council, explained that the U.S. coordinated the operation with the Iraqi government but neither coordinated with nor advised the Assad regime in Syria in advance of the operation.

The Times report is here. CBS News, which is also reporting on the raid (here), explains that President Obama approved it. It involved hand-to-hand combat, the jihadists tried to use women and children as human shields, and about a dozen jihadists were killed. None of the women and children were injured.

The operation has been weeks in the making. Abu Sayyaf has been changing location while under surveillance. The U.S. forces infiltrated into Iraq over the past two weeks or so, continued training, and from there entered eastern Syria, where the operation took place. Our forces are said to have seized laptops and cellphones, which are being analyzed for intelligence purposes.

This is obviously a crucial development, and the president is to be applauded for authorizing it. Clearly, it underscores what many informed analysts have been saying for a long time: There is a severe limit to what can be accomplished solely by aerial attacks to beat back the Islamic State and a resurgent al Qaeda. To be decisively effective, the air raids must be augmented by boots on the ground … and there is no equal of American ground forces.

Most Popular

U.S.

Political Theatrics

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is Jonah Goldberg’s weekly “news”letter, the G-File. Subscribe here to get the G-File delivered to your inbox on Fridays. Dear Reader (Including all you whippersnappers under the age of 50), I’m writing this from somewhere over the Atlantic. At least I hope that’s ... Read More
World

The Real Reasons American Evangelicals Support Israel

It never fails. Whenever a Republican president makes a controversial or contentious move to support Israel -- such as moving the American embassy to Jerusalem, or yesterday’s decision to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights -- you’ll see various “explainers” and other stories that purport ... Read More
White House

Mueller Report Delivered to Attorney General

Special Counsel Robert Mueller on Friday evening delivered a report to attorney general William Barr detailing his nearly two-year investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign. Barr will now be tasked with deciding what information from the report ... Read More