President Donald Trump tweeted on Thursday that "Five Most Wanted leaders of ISIS" were captured by Iraqi forces together with U.S.-backed Syrian forces.
"These arrests are a significant blow to ISIS as we continue to remove its leadership and fighters from the battlefield," said Marine Maj. Adrian J.T. Rankine-Galloway, Pentagon Spokesman giving credit to the Iraqi forces."The success of this operation is indicative of the improved capabilities of our partners to defeat ISIS. The coalition is not in a position to confirm details on the captured leaders, and we have no additional information to offer at this time."
Then on Friday, Iraqi authorities released details about the arrest of the five Islamic State (IS) leaders.
The arrested terrorists have been identified as follows, according to the Iraqi military.
- "Saddam Omar Yahya al-Jamal, known as Abu Rukya al-Ansari, the so-called security commander of the Euphrates and the revolutionary commander of the Eastern Brigade."
- "Mohammed Hussein Hadar, known as Abu Saif al-Shu'aiti"
- "Abdul Qader Ashour al-Zobaie, known as Abu Abdul Hak al-Iraqi, the so-called commander of the Fatih strike force."
- "Omar Shahab Hammad al-Karbouli, known as Abu Hafs al-Karbouli, the so-called Intelligence Commander of the Euphrates."
- "Ismail Alwan Salman al-Ithawi, known as Abu Zaid al-Iraqi, one of [Abu Bakir] al-Baghdadi's assistant and Chairman of the Planning Committee in the so-called Islamic State."
"Under the supervision and guidance of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Dr. Haider al-Abadi, and with great effort by the Iraqi National Intelligence Service in coordination with the Joint Operations Command, a major operation was carried out, leading to the arrest of important IS leaders who participated in attacks on our dear provinces of Anbar and Mosul," said the Iraqi military in a statement.
The ISIS militants were captured at the Iraq-Syria border. The spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve Army Col. Ryan Dillon referred to the arrested with similar language to Trump's as being "key" leaders of ISIS.
"#Iraq captures 5 key Daesh leaders during #OperationRoundup. The arrest is a significant blow to Daesh & demonstrates close coordination between #ISF & #SDF in their fight to #defeatDaesh. @CJTFOIR is committed to lasting defeat of Daesh & setting conditions for stabilization," tweeted Dillion.
CNN reported that two Iraqi sources said that the five leaders were captured back in early spring and on Wednesday, the Iraqi state television, al-Iraqiya TV reported that the capture was part of a mission dubbed "Operation 732," where the Iraqi intelligence lured the leaders into Iraq from Syria.
The Iraqi government then was able to gather information from their interrogations to orchestrate an air strike killing 40 ISIS terrorists.
Al-Baghdadi, who remains one of the coalition's top targets, is still at-large and suspected to be somewhere on the border between Syria and Iraq.
"He is the main individual we are after, for two reasons," said Michael Morrell, the former acting director of the CIA. "One is his removal would be a symbol of the defeat of ISIS in Iraq and Syria and he is a galvanizing force holding the rest of the group together. So if he went away, it would splinter apart."
Although ISIS has gradually lost control in Iraq since 2014, the conflict with the terrorist group in Syria is still very much a problem.
"The U.S. -led coalition supported Iraqi ground forces and Syrian fighters known as the Syrian Democratic Forces in the more than three-year war against ISIS.After Iraqi forces retook the Iraqi city of Mosul from ISIS last summer, Syrian forces on the other side of the border claimed a series of swift victories, but the campaign was stalled recently when Turkey launched a cross-border raid into Syria's north," writes Fox News. "Earlier this month the coalition announced a drive to clear the final pockets of ISIS territory inside Syria."