Iraqi forces capture 5 top IS leaders in cross-border raid


BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraqi forces in coordination with U.S.-backed Syrian forces have captured five senior Islamic State group leaders, the U.S.-led coalition said today in a statement.

The arrest was a "significant blow to Daesh," coalition spokesman Army Col. Ryan Dillon said, using the Arabic acronym for the extremist group.

IS fighters no longer control significant pockets of territory inside Iraq, but do maintain a grip inside Syria along Iraq's border.

The U.S. -led coalition supported Iraqi ground forces and Syrian fighters known as the Syrian Democratic Forces in the more than three-year war against IS.

After Iraqi forces retook the Iraqi city of Mosul from IS last summer, Syrian forces on the other side of the border claimed a series of swift victories, but the campaign was stalled recently when Turkey launched a cross-border raid into Syria's north.

Earlier this month the coalition announced a drive to clear the final pockets of IS territory inside Syria.

U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted about the anti-IS raid Thursday, saying those arrested were the "five most wanted" IS "leaders."

It was unclear what criteria, if any, Trump was using to describe the IS operatives as the "five most wanted."

A U.S. national security official said there were no indications that the operation had captured Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of IS who has long been the coalition's top target. The official wasn't authorized to discuss the targets publicly and requested anonymity.

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