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U.S. special forces target terror leaders in Syria; 25 killed

By Doug G. Ware and Stephen Feller
U.S. special forces target terror leaders in Syria; 25 killed
U.S.-led coalitiion forces carried out nearly three dozen strikes in Iraq and Syria on Sunday -- including an aerial operation in which an elite team of U.S. special forces killed and captured Islamic State operatives in east Syria, near the Euphrates River. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that at least 25 militants were killed in the raid, which lasted about 90 minutes. File Photo by IDF/European Pressphoto Agency

AL MAYADIN, Syria, Jan. 9 (UPI) -- U.S. special forces were deployed in eastern Syria this weekend in an operation aimed at capturing leaders of the Islamic State terror group, military officials said Monday.

The U.S. Department of Defense publicly noted several operations in Syria on Sunday. One involved a raid in a small town along the Euphrates River that targeted militant leaders.

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The operation was initially reported by Deir al-Zour 24, which monitors militant activity in that area.

The strike targeting jihadist leaders lasted for about 90 minutes and involved special forces troops arriving on helicopters. It ended with soldiers carrying away captured and killed Islamic State operators.

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In Deir al-Zour, U.S. soldiers attempted to capture an Islamic State leader they wanted to interrogate, but a firefight broke out and the person was killed while sitting in a car.

The maneuvers were part of Operation Inherent Resolve, U.S. Central Command's campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria -- which is part of a larger, international coalition against the militant group also identified as Daesh, ISIS and ISIL.

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"[We] confirm a U.S. operation in the vicinity of Deir al-Zour on Jan. 8," John Dorrian, a spokesman for the coalition, told The Washington Post. "The U.S. and the entire counter-ISIL coalition will continue to pursue ISIL leaders wherever they are to ensure the security and stability of the region and our homelands."

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The Post reported the strike was carried out by the Expeditionary Task Force, an elite U.S. unit based in Iraq tasked with hunting down top Islamic State leaders.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human rights reported Monday that the U.S. raid killed at least 25 Islamic State operatives. The group also reported two terrorist leaders -- Abu Sufiyan al-Omrani and Abu Huzaifa al-Orduni -- were killed in coalition airstrikes this weekend in Al-Raqqah, about 100 miles northwest of Deir al-Zour.

CENTCOM said there were a total of 34 strikes carried out in Syria and Iraq on Sunday.

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