US troops flew into eastern Syria and killed IS militant leader Abu Sayyaf in what Washington has called a "major blow" to the terrorist group. Sayyaf is believed to have handled the IS' oil and financial operations.
The US Special Forces killed senior "Islamic State" (IS) militant Abu Sayyaf and captured his wife, the White House confirmed on Saturday.
Sayyaf was killed "during the course of the operation when he engaged US forces," White House National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said. The operation was carried out with the "full consent of Iraqi authorities" and was "consistent with domestic and international law, she added.
US authorities, however, did not coordinate with Syrian authorities, Meehan said, adding that Washington had "warned the Assad regime not to interfere with our ongoing efforts against ISIL [The Islamic State in Syria and the Levant] inside of Syria."
Operation to wipe out Sayyaf
US Special Operations Forces had been ordered to conduct an operation in al-Amr in eastern Syria to capture Sayyaf and his wife, Umm Sayyaf, Pentagon chief Ashton Carter said late Friday.
Sayyaf was involved in the group's military operations and also managed its illegal gas, oil and financial operations, Carter said in a press release published on the Pentagon's website. His wife was also believed to be complicit in activities carried out by the "Islamic State" and had apparently played a role in enslaving a young Yazidi woman rescued in the US army operation, the defense secretary said.
The operation represented "another significant blow to ISIL" and a "reminder" that the United States would "never waver in denying safe haven to terrorists," he stressed.
The "Islamic State," a terror group that believes in an extreme interpretation of Sharia law, controls large swathes of northern Iraq and Syria. It aims to build an orthodox Islamist caliphate in the region.
mg/sms (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)