United States special forces have carried out a raid on ISIL in the eastern Syrian province of Deir Az Zor, according to an official and a monitoring group.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based group tracking developments in Syria’s conflict through a network of contacts on the ground, said on Monday that at least 25 fighters belonging to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group were killed in the village of al-Kubar during Sunday’s raid.
A US coalition official also told Al Jazeera that a raid had taken place on Sunday in Deir Az Zor but did not confirm the number of casualties.
The raid was first reported by news outlet Deirezzor 24 on its Twitter account, which specialises in news from the province.
It reported that a 90-minute clash took place near the village and that coalition troops – backed by two fighter jets – arrived at the scene in four helicopters.
Killings and arrests
According to Deirezzor 24, US troops took with them an unspecified number of bodies of ISIL members killed in the fighting and arrested several members of the group.
US soldiers are waging a low-profile war against ISIL, also known as ISIS, in Syria, as well as in neighbouring Iraq.
The US military mostly opts to target the group with jets, but is also known to have carried out several raids against ISIL’s senior leaders.
In May 2015, US troops killed Abu Sayyaf, an ISIL leader, and at least six other members of the group in an attack in Deir Az Zor.
Later, in October 2015, a US soldier was killed in the Iraqi city of Hawija during a raid on an ISIL compound that freed more than 70 hostages.
US officials have been keen to play down their army’s presence in both Iraq and Syria, cautious of being seen to be involved in another complex war.
Most of Deir Az Zor province is in ISIL hands except for a small Syrian government-held enclave inside the provincial capital, also named Deir Az Zor.
The province, which shares a long desert border with Iraq, was initially held by Syrian rebels but was captured by ISIL in 2014.