A rare US helicopter attack on a government-held village in northeastern Syria has killed an Islamic State official in hiding, two security sources say.
The United States has conducted previous raids in Syria against members of ISIS, but Thursday’s operation would be the first known operation in a zone held by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.
Early Thursday, US special forces conducted a rare operation in the government-held village of Muluk Saray in the northeastern province of Hasakeh, Syrian state television said on its Telegram channel.
One person was said to have been killed and others taken prisoner. She did not provide any further information about her identity.
Two security sources later told Reuters that the man killed was an Islamic State group official wanted by the United States.
“The air operation targeted a key ISIS leader who is in the Syrian government-controlled areas. It was successful,” said one of the security sources.
The source said the man killed was responsible for coordinating between IS dormitories in the area.
“This operation aims to expand the scope of attacks on the members of this organization in different parts of Syria,” the source added.
The second source confirmed that the man killed was an IS officer and said US forces took his body with them when they retreated.
A local source said the man had moved to the village of Muluk Saray in recent years from Taif, a town near the border with Iraq that was once an IS stronghold.
“People thought he was a shepherd — no one knows his true identity,” the source said.
The local source said US forces also searched a building used by Syrian security forces and arrested “several people” there.
Other residents of the area confirmed the raid to Reuters.
One said US helicopters landed in the village after midnight and used loudspeakers to urge residents to stay indoors and turn off the lights. The local resident said the operation lasted several hours and there was no exchange of fire with US troops.
A spokesman for the US-led coalition to combat Islamic State did not immediately respond to a request for comment.