The U.S. military conducted two separate helicopter raids in northern Syria during the last week of September, capturing two suspected Islamic State group leaders, according to U.S. Central Command. These efforts are part of the continued U.S. mission to degrade ISIS’s operational abilities in the region.
- The U.S. troops captured Abu Halil al-Fad’ani on Sept. 23 and Mamduh Ibrahim al-haji Shaykh on Sept. 28, both suspected of being involved in ISIS’s operational planning in northern Syria.
- Army Maj. Geoffrey A. Carmichael stated that removing these leaders disrupts ISIS’s leadership structure and their ability to plot attacks in the region.
- Currently, 900 U.S. troops are stationed in Syria, collaborating with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The U.S. military executed 308 missions against ISIS in Syria and Iraq this year.
- Internal fighting among anti-ISIS forces in Syria threatens the unity of the forces, especially after an incident where the SDF arrested an Arab militia leader in August.
- Russian military planes have been increasingly confrontational with U.S. forces in Syria, with several incidents involving dangerous maneuvers near U.S. aircraft.