BEIRUT — American forces on Sunday killed two Islamic State militants in eastern Syria in a helicopter raid, U.S. Central Command said in a statement.
IS sleeper calls continue to carry out deadly attacks in Syria and Iraq. For a few years, the group ruled swathes of both countries but lost its last stronghold in 2019.
U.S. Central Command did not specify the location of the overnight operation, and claimed there were no civilian casualties in its initial assessments of the operation.
The statement described one of the two targeted IS leaders, Anas, as an “ISIS Syria Province official” involved in plotting attacks in eastern Syria.
“ISIS continues to represent a threat to the security and stability of the region,” CENTCOM spokesman Joe Buccino said in the statement. “The death of these ISIS officials will disrupt the terrorist organization’s ability to further plot and carry out destabilizing attacks in the Middle East.”
Kurdish forces also took part in the raid in the village of Al-Zer in eastern Deir el-Zour, said the U.K.-based war monitor group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The militants refused to turn themselves in before U.S. helicopters fired at the house they were in, it added.
There are some 900 U.S. forces in Syria supporting the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in the fight against IS. They have frequently targeted IS militants mostly in parts of northeastern Syria under Kurdish control.
On Nov. 30, IS announced that leader Abu al-Hassan al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi was killed in battle. The U.S. said al-Qurayshi was killed in an operation conducted by rebel forces in the southern city of Daraa.
U.S. troops and Kurdish fighters resumed joint patrols in northeastern Syria after a temporary halt following a series of Turkish airstrikes against Kurdish-led forces.