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US Special Forces kill Isis leader in daring helicopter raid

It comes as battle continues to rage in Iraq.

Updated 3. 07 pm

Source: CNN/YouTube

US SPECIAL FORCES killed a senior Islamic State group leader and captured his wife in a daring night raid in eastern Syria

In the course of the dramatic operation, a Yazidi woman believed to have been enslaved by the couple was rescued as well, the White House announced on Saturday.

The bold raid, with elite American commandos striking at the inner circle of the IS group in their eastern Syrian stronghold, was a rare use of “boots on the ground” by the US which has fought the jihadists almost entirely from the air.

On orders from President Barack Obama, the special operations forces based in Iraq sought to capture the IS militant, Abu Sayyaf, who oversaw oil smuggling and military operations for the jihadists. But the extremist was killed after firing on the US troops, the White House said.

It comes as the US  is committed to sending “continued and expedited” weapons to Iraq amid a major advance by Islamic State militants. 

US Vice President Joe Biden has assured Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi of the support as Islamic State extremists seized a government compound in the city of Ramadi.

Source: Reuters/YouTube

Taking control of Ramadi would constitute the group’s most important victory this year in Iraq, and would give the jihadists control of the capitals of two of its largest provinces.

Mosul, capital of Nineveh province, has been under IS control since it launched a lightning offensive in June 2014.

Anbar province, of which Ramadi is the capital, extends from the Syrian, Jordanian, and Saudi borders to the gates of Baghdad.

Most of the Iraqi government forces and Sunni tribesmen fighting alongside them are concentrated in a nearby military base and in the Anbar Operations Command across the Euphrates river.

But on Saturday, there was no sign of the Ramadi counter-offensive that had been announced by Iraqi authorities, although civilians were fleeing the city in droves.

Mideast Iraq Islamic State Iraqi family members forced from their homes. Source: AP/Press Association Images

In their phonecall,  Biden thanked Abadi,  ”for his steadfast leadership in Iraq and for promoting national unity at a time of significant security challenges, including today’s ISIL attack on Ramadi,” a White House statement said.

“The vice president assured the prime minister of continued and expedited US security assistance to confront ISIL,” the White House added, including heavy weaponry, ammunition and supplies for Iraqi forces.

Executions

In neighbouring Syria, Islamic State jihadists advanced towards Syria’s ancient city of Palmyra after executing dozens of civilians on the city’s outskirts.

Situated in central Homs province, Palmyra lies at the gateway to Syria’s vast desert extending to IS-controlled territory in neighbouring Iraq, making the ancient city a key strategic target for the extremist group.

If Palmyra falls, it would expand IS control from Syria’s east and north to the country’s heartland.

Mideast Iraq Islamic State A Sunni fighter attempts to halt the Islamic State advance. Source: AP/Press Association Images

The city is also key to IS’s propaganda machine, as the group has destroyed numerous pre-Islamic archeological sites during its rampage across Iraq and Syria.

In its brutal advance towards the city, IS executed at least 49 civilians over the course of two days according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

This, they said, included 26 people on Thursday after accusing them of “collaborating with the regime.”

Ten people were beheaded, the monitor said.

IS executed another 23 civilians, among them nine children, on Friday northeast of Palmyra.

Read: Couple arrested after trying to bring their children to join Islamic State in Syria >

Read: Victims lying in pools of blood after deadly Islamic State suicide attack >

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