Boots on the Ground in Syria

Defense Secretary Ash Carter on May 15 ordered a US Special Operations Forces team to conduct an operation in al-Amr in eastern Syria at the direction of President Barack Obama, marking the first known ground operation against ISIS forces in Syria, according to a May 16 statement from Carter. The commandos were ordered to capture Abu Sayyaf, a senior ISIS leader who directed the organization’s illicit oil, gas, and financial operations, and his wife, Umm Sayyaf, said Carter. Abu Sayyaf was killed after engaging US forces, he added. “US forces captured Umm Sayyaf, who we suspect is a member of ISIL, played an important role in ISIL’s terrorist activities, and may have been complicit in what appears to have been the enslavement of a young Yezidi woman rescued last night,” said Carter. He also said the operation represents a “significant blow” to the terrorist organization and serves as a “reminder that the United States will never waver in denying safe haven to terrorists who threaten our citizens, and those of our friends and allies.” No US service members were wounded or killed in the operation. The Obama Administration has repeatedly told Congress there will be no “boots on the ground” in Syria, acknowledging the nation already is weary after 13 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan.