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Amerikanske spesialstyrkers angrep over grensen til Syria søndag, var rettet mot en Al Qaida-leder som får operere fritt på syrisk territorium, sier en etterretningskilde.

The US military incursion into Syria was aimed at the senior leader of al Qaeda’s extensive network that funnels foreign fighters, weapons, and cash from Syria into Iraq, a senior intelligence official told The Long War Journal.

US special operations hunter-killer teams entered Syria in an attempt to capture Abu Ghadiya, a senior al Qaeda leader who has been in charge of the Syrian network since 2005. US intelligence analysts identified Ghadiya as the leader of the Syrian network, The Washington Post reported in July. Ghadiya was identified as a «major target» by the US military in February 2008.

The raid to capture Ghadiya occurred in the town of Sukkariya near Abu Kamal in eastern Syria, just five miles from the Iraqi border. Four US helicopters crossed the border and two of the helicopters landed to drop off special operations forces, who then proceeded to clear structures.

Nine people were reported killed and 14 were wounded. Syrian officials claimed innocent construction workers and women and children were killed in the raid.

US officials contacted by The Long War Journal would not comment if Ghadiya was killed or captured during the raid.

The US military has officially refused to confirm or deny the raid took place. But several senior intelligence officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the subject told The Long War Journal that the raid was indeed carried out inside Syria.

The raid is the first of its kind against Syria. The US has been striking regularly at Taliban and al Qaeda targets inside Pakistan’s tribal areas since the beginning of September.

Ghadiya, whose real name is Badran Turki Hishan al Mazidih, is an Iraqi from the northern city of Mosul. Ghadiya succeeded Suleiman Khalid Darwish, a Syrian national and lieutenant of Abu Musab al Zarqawi, the former leader of al Qaeda in Iraq who was killed by US forces in June 2006. US forces killed Darwish in a raid in Al Qaim in June 2005.

Syrian strike aimed at al Qaeda’s coordinator in Syria

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