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By Jim Miklaszewski and Courtney Kube

U.S. commandos have captured a suspected ISIS militant in northern Iraq, defense officials confirmed to NBC News early Wednesday.

The "ranking" ISIS member was captured by Delta Force, the Army's top covert combat unit, according to the officials. It was not clear how long the U.S. will interrogate the alleged ISIS member before turning the operative over to Iraqi or Kurdish authorities.

One senior defense official said the man captured as a "key operator" in terrorist operations though not a "significant leader.

The officials spoke to NBC News on condition of anonymity and did not identify the operative or provide more details. There was no immediate comment from Iraqi officials.

The capture, which was first reported by the New York Times and CNN late Tuesday, signifies a critical expansion of America's military operations in both Iraq and Syria. Dozens of U.S. Special Operation Forces personnel have been deployed in the two countries to conduct covert operations against ISIS.

The Special Operation Forces are there primarily to launch raids to capture the group's leaders or rescue hostages, and are not intended to be used in tactical combat operations.

In May 2015, they killed a top ISIS leader — Abu Sayyaf — and captured his wife during a raid in Syria.

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Aug. 27, 201403:12