(photo credit: REUTERS)
US special operations forces killed a senior Islamic State leader, who helped direct the group's oil, gas and financial operations, during a raid in eastern Syria, the Pentagon and White House said on Saturday.
The White House said President Barack Obama ordered the raid that killed the man identified as Abu Sayyaf. US officials said his wife, Umm Sayyaf, was captured in the raid and was being held in Iraq.
White House National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said in a statement that US personnel based out of Iraq conducted the operation in al-Amr in eastern Syria.
"During the course of the operation, Abu Sayyaf was killed when he engaged US forces," Meehan said.
"The president authorized this operation upon the unanimous recommendation of his national security team and as soon as we had developed sufficient intelligence and were confident the mission could be carried out successfully and consistent with the requirements for undertaking such operations," Meehan said.
Meehan said the operation was conducted "with the full consent of Iraqi authorities" and "consistent with domestic and international law".
Earlier Saturday, the Syrian army had also claimed to have killed an Islamic State leader responsible for oil-related affairs along with 40 other militants in the eastern province of Deir al-Zor, which was reported by Syrian state media.
A news flash on state TV identified Islamic State's "oil minister" as Abu al-Taym al-Saudi. It said he had been killed in a special operation in the Omar oil field, Syria's largest, which Islamic State captured from rival insurgents last July.
The United States did not warn the Syrian government in advance or coordinate with it on a US special forces raid that killed a senior Islamic State leader in Syria, the White House said on Saturday.
"The US government did not coordinate with the Syrian regime, nor did we advise them in advance of this operation," said White House National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan.
"We have warned the Assad regime not to interfere with our ongoing efforts against ISIL inside of Syria," she said, using an alternative acronym for Islamic State. "The Assad regime is not and cannot be a partner in the fight against ISIL."