eports of Civilian Casualties as U.S. Raid in Syria Appears to Target Qaeda Leader
Helicopter-borne Special Operations troops carried out the risky predawn commando assault.
U.S. Special Operations forces carried out what the Pentagon called a “successful” counterterrorism mission in northwest Syria early Thursday. But the risky commando assault against what was believed to be a Qaeda leader came amid reports from the scene that several civilians, including children, may have been killed or injured.
American helicopters ferried the commandos into position soon after midnight, surrounding a house in Atmeh, a town close to the border with Turkey in rebel-held Idlib Province, according to American analysts monitoring Syrian social media reports and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
A long, tense standoff ensued, with helicopter loudspeakers blaring warnings in Arabic for women and children inside the house to evacuate, according to social media and witness accounts. After about two hours, a major battle erupted, with rocket-propelled grenades and other fire hurtling from the house and surrounding buildings toward the Americans.
During the operation, one of the American helicopters suffered a mechanical problem, was forced to land and was later destroyed by American attack aircraft. At some point, the American commandos and their remaining helicopters flew off, witnesses said.