President Obama ordered a nighttime raid last weekend, only the second such maneuver in the ongoing fight against Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. Under the cover of darkness, Delta Force commandos flew deep into war-ravaged eastern Syria to the Al Omar oil field in order to capture Abu Sayyaf, an IS commander believed to be in charge of oil operations.
The Pentagon announced the results of the raid Saturday morning: US troops met unforeseen resistance upon arrival and Sayyaf was killed in the crossfire. They did, however, manage to capture his wife Umm and rescue a female Yazidi slave. There were no US casualties, but at least ten IS militants were skilled during the skirmish. Umm was detained for questioning.
Despite Obama’s continued involvement in this conflict, NSC spokeswoman Meehan reminds us that the US is in no way working with the Syrian government: â€œâ€¦the Assad regime is not and cannot be a partner in the fight against ISIL. In fact, the brutal actions of the regime have aided and abetted the rise of ISIL and other extremists in Syria.â€ This is not the first time that US officials have bluntly refused to work with Syria and/or President Bashar Assad.
Syria is doing what it can to beat back Islamic State as militants spread to more areas. A recent attack against Palmyra and Sukhneh has so far resulted in 295 deaths including soldiers from both sides as well as innocent civilians. The town of Palmyra is a worrisome target not only because it is directly connected to the countryâ€™s capital, but also because the city houses famous historical ruins that are believed to be at least 2,000 years old.
Meanwhile Islamic State continues to grow in power, earning an estimated $1 million per day from illegal oil and gas sales despite US airstrikes on known IS oil facilities. Islamic State currently controls big parts of eastern and northern Syria as well as western Iraq.