4 US troops injured in Syria helicopter raid targeting ISIS senior leader
The injuries resulted from an "explosion on target," U.S. Central Command said.
Four U.S. service members and a military working dog were injured in an explosion during an operation on Thursday night that killed Hamza al-Homsi, a senior leader with the Islamic State group, U.S. Central Command announced.
“The injuries to the U.S. troops and working dog resulted from Hamza al-Homsi detonating an explosion on the target in the vicinity of Deir ez-Zor Syria,” said CENTCOM spokesman Army Col. Joe Buccino. “Hamza al-Homsi oversaw the group’s deadly terrorist network in eastern Syria before he was killed in the raid. The U.S. service members and working dog are in stable condition.”
In an earlier statement, Buccino said that al-Homsi had detonated a suicide vest, but he issued a clarification shortly afterward that did not specify exactly how the ISIS leader had set off an explosion.
The four U.S. service members and military working dog are being treated at a U.S. medical facility in Iraq, according to a CENTCOM news release on Friday.
Subscribe to Task & Purpose Today. Get the latest military news, entertainment, and gear in your inbox daily.
U.S. troops partnered with Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) for the helicopter raid, which took place in northeastern Syria, the news release says.
“No other ISIS fighters were killed or captured,” Buccino said. “No SDF partner forces were injured during the operation. No civilians were on the target and initial assessments indicate no civilians were killed or injured.”
After this story was first published, Buccino said that a second raid had taken place on Thursday night that was also near Deir ez-zor, Syria.
An ISIS assassination cell leader was killed in that second mission, said Buccino, who did not include the ISIS leader’s name.
No U.S. troops were killed or wounded in that mission, Buccino said.
Both raids comes nearly a week after U.S. troops and the SDF mounted a Feb, 10 operation in Syria that killed Ibrahim Al Qahtani, a suspected ISIS official who allegedly planned to break ISIS prisoners out of detention facilities.
“It seems clear that the U.S. military is exploiting intelligence from recent raids in Iraq and possibly Somalia to go after upper and mid-level leaders of the Islamic State,” said Bill Roggio, a senior fellow with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies think tank in Washington, D.C.
However, it is important to remember that leaders of ISIS, al-Qaida, and other terrorist groups have a deep bench of deputies, who are waiting to take over when the time comes, Roggio told Task & Purpose on Friday.
The Free Syrian Army – which is separate from the SDF – killed former top ISIS leader Abu al-Hassan al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi in October.
Al-Qurayshi’s death “probably accelerated the shift towards a new generation of senior ISIS leaders,” the most recent quarterly report from the Lead Inspector General for Operation Inherent Resolve found.
Between 6,000 and 10,000 ISIS fighters are currently estimated to remain at large in both Syria and Iraq, the report found. That is down from an estimated presence of 18,000 ISIS fighters in both countries two years ago.
The report also found that U.S. troops conducted several helicopter raids in northeastern Syria during the last three months of 2022.
“A raid on December 11 killed two ISIS officials—one who was involved in the group’s deadly plotting and facilitation operations in eastern Syria, USCENTCOM said,” according to the report. “In a 48-hour period from December 19-20, Coalition forces conducted three helicopter raids in eastern Syria resulting in the detention of 6 ISIS operatives, including [a] senior official involved in planning and facilitating ISIS attacks in Syria.”
UPDATE: 2/17/2023; this story was update on Feb. 17 to include information about a second raid in Syria, during which an ISIS assassination cell leader was killed.
The latest on Task & Purpose
- Here’s why the Marine Corps strapped a rare electronic warfare LAV to the deck of a warship
- Shot fired after intruder breaks onto Andrews Air Force base
- That time a US Navy submarine got a confirmed kill on a train during WWII
- Coast Guardsman saves man hours before graduating from rescue swimmer school
- JTAC vs TACP: A user’s guide to the troops who call in close air support
Want to write for Task & Purpose? Click here.