A commando raid today deep in ISIS-held territory in Syria was apparently successful.
U.S. Special Operations forces killed a key ISIS commander during a daring raid intended to capture him in eastern Syria overnight Friday to Saturday, U.S. government officials said.
The ISIS commander, Abu Sayyaf, was killed after he fought capture in the raid at al-Omar, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said in a statement. Sayyaf's wife, an Iraqi named Umm Sayyaf, was caught and is being held in Iraq.
Carter said he had ordered the raid at the direction of President Barack Obama. All the U.S. troops involved returned safely.
National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said Obama had authorized the raid "upon the unanimous recommendation of his national security team" and as soon as the United States was confident all the pieces were in place for the operation to succeed.
"Abu Sayyaf was a senior ISIL leader who, among other things, had a senior role in overseeing ISIL's illicit oil and gas operations -- a key source of revenue that enables the terrorist organization to carry out their brutal tactics and oppress thousands of innocent civilians," she said in a statement.
"We now have reams of data on how ISIS operates, communicates and earns its money," the official told CNN, referring to some of the communications elements, such as computers, seized in the raid.
Umm Sayyaf, his wife, is currently in military detention in Iraq. A young woman from the Yazidi religious minority was rescued.
"We suspect that Umm Sayyaf is a member of ISIL, played an important role in ISIL's terrorist activities, and may have been complicit in the enslavement of the young woman rescued last night," said Meehan. ISIL is an alternative acronym for ISIS.
Meehan said Umm Sayyaf was being debriefed about ISIL operations, including any information she may have on hostages held by the terror group.
From reports, the battle was fierce after troops were airdropped in.
A senior administration official told CNN the purpose of the mission was to capture the target, but he engaged U.S. forces so was killed. While the purpose was to capture the forces had the option to kill if they deemed it necessary, the official said.↓ Story continues below ↓
Meanwhile, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a London-based monitoring group, said at least 19 ISIS militants had been killed by coalition bombing targeting ISIS' location in al-Omar oil field in eastern Deir Ezzor in the early hours of Saturday.
Preliminary information indicates that the U.S.-led coalition airdropped forces following the bombardment, it said.