The CIA and the Joint Special Operations Command are said to be working together in a covert military operation in Syria, killing special ISIS targets. The said operation is different from the widely known U.S.-led coalition conducting airstrikes in the region.
According to anonymous Pentagon sources, who have spoken exclusively with The Washington Post, the CIA and JSOC are flying drones over Syria to target known ISIS senior operative members. Such targets are described as “high-value targets,” according to the sources. The sources, however, said that the covert operation is only responsible for a “handful of strikes” conducted in Syria for the past year.
The report from The Washington Post stressed that the revelation breached the vow of transparency given by United States President Barack Obama in relations to the country’s counterterrorism efforts. Also, Mr. Obama had promised to eventually changed CIA’s framework from one that is spying in nature to being one of a paramilitary force.
On Aug. 28, Centcom has confirmed the death of ISIS operative, Junaid Hussain, in a U.S. airstrike conducted on August 24. Air Force Col. Patrick Ryder told Pentagon reporters that Hussain was killed in the ISIS stronghold in Raqqah, Syria.
“[Hussain] was involved in recruiting ISIL sympathizers in the West to carry out lone-wolf style attacks. He had significant technical skills and expressed a strong desire to kill Americans … He no longer poses a threat,” Ryder said.
The colonel also noted that Hussain “was responsible for releasing personally identifiable information of about 1,300 U.S. military and government employees.” Hussain had specifically threatened to direct violence against U.S. service members and government employees.
“We have taken a significant threat off the battlefield and have made it very clear [to] ISIL leadership we are going to target them … just as we’re targeting their communications nodes, logistics nodes and military equipment,” he said.
The report from The Washington Post said that Hussain was actually targeted by the covert joint operation by the CIA and JSOC.
Peter Boogaard, a spokesman for the White House National Security Council, told The Washington Post that Mr. Obama remained committed to his vow of transparency by “turning to the U.S. military to take the lead and to provide information to the public.” The spokesman, however, denied to comment about the Pentagon’s operation in Syria.