U.S President Donald Trump cheers the capture of 5 ISIS commanders
Iraqi forces in co-ordination with US-backed Syrian forces have captured five senior Islamic State group leaders, the US-led coalition says.
US President Donald Trump tweeted about the anti-IS raid on Thursday, saying those arrested were the “five most wanted” IS “leaders”. It was unclear what criteria, if any, Trump was using to describe the IS operatives as the “five most wanted”.
The arrest was a “significant blow to Daesh”, coalition spokesman Army Colonel Ryan Dillon said on Thursday in a statement, using the Arabic acronym for the extremist group.
A Pentagon spokesman, Marine Major Adrian JT Rankine-Galloway, said the US credited Iraqi security forces with the militants’ capture “on the Iraq-Syria border”.
“These arrests are a significant blow to ISIS as we continue to remove its leadership and fighters from the battlefield,” Rankine-Galloway said.
IS fighters no longer control significant pockets of territory inside Iraq, but do maintain a grip inside Syria along Iraq’s border.
A US national security official said there were no indications that the operation had captured Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of IS who has long been the coalition’s top target.
Last year the Pentagon said that there were “some indicators” that al-Baghdadi was still alive a month after Russia claimed to have killed him in a strike near the Syrian city of Raqqa.
None of the statements released on Thursday from the president or the coalition named the IS fighters arrested.