The mission was a success and there were no casualties among US forces, the Pentagon said of the operation against a building in Atme in Idlib province. He did not provide any further details.
This is the largest operation by US forces in Syria since the death in October 2019 of Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, leader of the jihadist armed group Islamic State (IS), killed in a raid in the Idleb region, which escapes the control of the Syrian power, indicated the director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (OSDH), Rami Abdel Rahmane.
According to theOSDHwhich relies on an extensive network of sources in the country at war, the soldiers landed by helicopter near camps for displaced people in the locality of Atmé in the province of Idlib, largely controlled by jihadists and rebels.
US Special Forces under the direction of US Central Command conducted a counterterrorism mission in northwestern Syria overnight.the Pentagon added in a statement.
Further information will be provided later.
The operation provoked clashes that lasted two hours, theOSDH without being able to immediately specify the identities of the jihadists sought.
At least thirteen people, including four children and three women, were killed in the operationaccording to the NGO.
According to correspondents of theAFP on the spot, the American operation targeted a two-storey building in an area surrounded by trees. Part of the building was destroyed and the floor of the rooms was covered in blood. According to residents, senior jihadist leaders of the Al-Qaeda group were targeted.
Residents told theAFP hearing shelling and gunfire. In an audio recording that has been circulating among the population and has been attributed to US forces, a person speaking Arabic asks women and children to evacuate homes in the targeted area.
Experts say overcrowded camps in the Atme region, located in northern Idlib province, serve as bases for jihadist leaders hiding among the displaced.
Parts of Idleb province and parts of the neighboring provinces of Hama, Aleppo and Latakia are dominated by Hayat Tahrir Al-Cham (HTS), the former Syrian branch of Al-Qaeda. Rebel groups and other jihadist formations such as the Houras Al-Din group are also present there.
These factions have already been the target mainly of airstrikes by the Syrian regime, its Russian ally, but also by the international anti-jihadist coalition led by the United States and American special forces.
But helicopter operations remain very rare in Syria, where American troops are deployed as part of the anti-jihadist coalition.
Last December, US forces killed a senior Houras Al-Din official in a drone attack.
This operation took place a few days after the end of an assault by theIS against a prison held by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), dominated by the Kurds, in the region of Hassaké (north-east).
This assault was the most important offensive of the jihadist group since its territorial defeat in Syria in 2019 against theMSDS aided by the international coalition. The attack on the prison and the fighting that followed left 373 dead, including 268 jihadists, 98 members of the Kurdish forces and seven civilians according to the OSDH.
L’IS has been driven from its strongholds in Syria and Iraq, but continues to carry out attacks in these two neighboring countries through sleeper cells.
Al-Qaeda is using Syria as a fallback base to replenish, coordinate with affiliates and plan operations overseassaid at the end of 2021 John Rigsbee, a spokesman for the central command of the American army.
The complex war in Syria, a fragmented country where different protagonists intervene, has claimed around 500,000 lives since 2011.