The U.S. military on Wednesday killed a senior fighter with the Islamic State terrorist group and a fellow combatant in a "very rare" operation inside a part of Syria controlled by the government, and killed two top ISIS officials Thursday in an airstrike, according to two U.S. military officials.
The Wednesday night raid was carried out by U.S. troops who traveled by helicopter into northeast Syria near the village of Qamishli and killed Rakkan Wahid al-Shammri, an ISIS official responsible for smuggling weapons and fighters. A second ISIS fighter was also killed, and two others were detained, the officials said.
Shammri is responsible for the beheading of two female fighters with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), according to one senior U.S. military official.
The raid was one of the first known to have been conducted by the U.S. military inside territory controlled by President Bashar al-Assad's regime.
The U.S. did not notify the Russian military, which is aligned with Syrian forces and operates in the area, about the raid in advance, the officials said.
The second mission was an airstrike carried out Thursday night in northern Syria that killed Abu Ala, one of the top five ISIS leaders in the world, as well as a second ISIS official who is responsible for prisoner affairs.
Together, the twin operations included about 1,000 hours of surveillance over the targets to ensure no civilians would be harmed, the officials said.
No Syrian civilians or U.S. troops were killed or injured in the operations, according to the officials, and no U.S equipment was damaged.
Col. Joe Buccino, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command, said in a statement: “USCENTCOM is committed to our allies and partners in the enduring defeat of ISIS."