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CENTCOM: U.S. forces kill 2 senior ISIS leaders in Syria

U.S. forces on Thursday killed two ISIS leaders in Syria. Photo by Air Force staff Sgt. Brittany A Chase/<a href="https://www.defense.gov/News/News-Stories/Article/Article/3140284/strikes-send-clear-message-to-iranian-backed-groups-in-syria-to-stop-attacks-on/">Department of Defense</a>/UPI
U.S. forces on Thursday killed two ISIS leaders in Syria. Photo by Air Force staff Sgt. Brittany A Chase/Department of Defense/UPI

Oct. 6 (UPI) -- U.S. forces killed two senior Islamic State leaders in Syria on Thursday in a rare attack, as the Biden administration continues to target the remnants of the terrorist organization in the Middle Eastern country.

The airstrike was conducted in northern Syria at 6:32 p.m. local time, killing both Abu-Hshum al-Umawi, a deputy Syrian Wali, and an unidentified senior ISIS official he was associated with, Florida-based U.S. Central Command said in a statement.

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No U.S. casualties were recorded nor were any equipment lost or damaged in the strike, officials said, adding that initial assessments indicate no civilians were killed or wounded in the operation.

"This strike will degrade ISIS' ability to destabilize the region and strike at our forces and partners," said Gen. Michael Kurilla, CENTCOM commander. "Our forces remain in the region to ensure the enduring defeat of ISIS."

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The attack came after U.S. forces on Wednesday night killed ISIS smuggler Rakkan Wahid al-Shammri in a rare helicopter raid on the northeastern Syrian village of Qamishli.

CENTCOM said there were no civilian or U.S. casualties as a result of the operation, but an associate of al-Shammri was wounded.

Al-Shammri was accused of facilitating the smuggling of weapons to aid ISIS operations, officials said.

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Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder confirmed to reporters during a press conference Thursday that the raid targeted al-Shammri but declined to detail the specifics of the operation.

ISIS's last caliphate in its former stronghold was eliminated by Syrian Democratic Forces in March of 2019. Though a shadow of its former self, ISIS has continued to conduct deadly attacks while attempting to grow its ranks.

Meanwhile, the United States continues to target its leadership, including Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, the second leader of ISIS, who was killed in a February counter-terrorism mission conducted in northwestern Syria.

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Last month, in a 24-day sweep by the SDF of the northwestern Syrian al-Hol refugee camp, some 300 ISIS operatives were arrested, CENTCOM said in a statement last month.

Twenty-five kilograms of explosives, 25 hand grenades and other supplies and logistic materials were also confiscated from the camp of some 60,000 during the operation, according to officials, who said six women who were found chained and had been tortured by SISI operations were also freed.

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Some of the women had been captured as children and had been held captive years, including one who was taken in 2014 at the age of nine and had been sold multiple times between ISIS members, U.S. officials said.

Kurilla explained that ISIS was attempting to exploit the conditions of the camp to recruit new members.

"The situation in al-Hol is an international crisis that requires an international solution," he said, "and the only permanent solution is the repatriation, rehabilitation and reintegration of camp residents."

On Thursday, Britain-based charity Save the Children called on nations in a statement to repatriate some 11,000 foreign children and women who remain at al-Hol as well as at the Roj camp in northeast Syria over fears of an increase in violence at the camps.

The organization cited last month's death of a 6-year-old who was run over by a truck in al-Hol as evidence of the threat children there face.

Asked Thursday if ISIS presented a growing threat in al-Hol, Ryder said that the recruitment of future ISIS fighters was "something that's being taken very seriously" by both the SDF and U.S. military.

"Clearly, ISIS is not the threat that they were back in 2014. And the point is, we want to keep it that way," he said.

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