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NEWS | May 19, 2015

Recent Syria operation highly successful, Pentagon spokesman says

WASHINGTON, May 19, 2015 - The U.S. Special Operations Forces raid that killed a senior leader of the extremist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in Syria Friday was a highly successful operation, Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren told reporters Monday.

Abu Sayyaf was killed, and his wife, Umm Sayyaf, believed to be complicit in ISIL operations, was captured, Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced Saturday. A young Yezidi woman, believed to have been enslaved by the couple, also was rescued.

U.S. Delta Force commandos aboard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and V-22 Ospreys conducted the raid into eastern Syria that killed Abu Sayyaf, dealing a "significant blow" to the extremist group, Carter announced.

"The operation went off exactly as planned, with the exception [that] the target was killed instead of captured when he engaged U.S. forces," Warren said. "We were able to collect a substantial amount of intelligence, and we are continuing to debrief Umm Sayyaf."

Taking down a high-level ISIL leader will disrupt the extremist group's ability to generate income and plan future operations, Warren said.

"We believe [Abu Sayyaf] was involved in operational planning," he said. "You will see an increase in our understanding of ISIL's ability to finance itself, its structure, who does business with them and who its partners are."

Warren added, "These are all valuable pieces of information that we'll be able to use in the long-term to great benefit."