Trump tweeted about the capture, which included two of the highest-ranking ISIS commanders ever to be taken alive.
Five Most Wanted leaders of ISIS just captured!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 10, 2018
Saddam al-Jamal, a Syrian who was accused of taking part of a massacre in the province of Deir Ezzor in 2014 which killed 700 members of a tribe that rose up against ISIS, was the second most senior member to be captured.
“These arrests are a significant blow to ISIS as we continue to remove its leadership and fighters from the battlefield,” said Maj. Adrian J.T. Rankine-Galloway, a Pentagon spokesman.
Those arrested included Syrian Saddam al-Jammel, a Syrian who was head of the ISIS territory around Deir el-Zour, and Abu Abdel al-Haq, an Iraqi who had been the chief of internal security.
According to two Iraqi sources aware of the capture and Iraqi state television, the five ISIS leaders in question were captured in early spring, and based on the names in those reports ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was not among them.
Islamic State militants last month restated their loyalty to Baghdadi, in what is believed to be their first public pledge of allegiance to him since his self-proclaimed caliphate collapsed last year in both Syria and Iraq.
Iraqi state television broadcast images of four of the men arrested in the operation, including Saddam Al-Jamal, alongside Omar Al-Karbouli, Essam Al-Zawbai and Mohamed Al-Qadeer
The US-led coalition has been launching airstrikes on Syria since 2014 in an anti-Daesh campaign that is neither sanctioned by the Syrian government nor the UN.
The men have now appeared on iraqi state television in yellow jump suits. Iraqi forces supported by American intelligence captured the officials in a “complex cross-border sting”.
Ismail al-Eithawi, who also uses the alias Abu Zaid al-Iraqi, was captured in February in Turkey by Turkish authorities and handed over to Iraqi agents, Iraqi security advisor Hisham al-Hashimi told Reuters.
Iraqi agents used the Telegram messaging app on Eithawi’s mobile phone to lure other Islamic State commanders to cross the border from Syria into Iraq, where they were captured. Those held include Saddam Jamal, a Syrian who served as the group’s governor of Syria’s eastern Euphrates region.
IMPORTANT:#Iraq's National Intelligence Service announces that it has detained 5 senior Da'ish commanders, including the notorious Saddam Al-Jamal, alongside Omar Shahab Al-Karbouli, Issam Al-Zawba'ie and Mohammed Al-Qadir.
This op was absolutely brilliant 🇮🇶 pic.twitter.com/In7IEw67ZV
— 🇧🇷 Sumeri 🇧🇪 (@IraqiSecurity) May 9, 2018
Despite being defeated, ISIS militants still pose a threat on the Syrian borders and continue to carry out bombings and killings across Iraq.