BAGHDAD, March 1, 2016 – Just days after Delta Force teams launched operations against ISIS in Iraq, U.S. Special Operations captured their firs ISIS operative in Northern Iraq. U.S. forces have begun interrogating the detainee and is expected to be turned over to Iraqi officials in the next few days. The mission was carried out by the Pentagon’s expeditionary targeting force. Defense Secretary Ash Carter acknowledged the expeditionary targeting force has been sent to Iraq to conduct raids against ISIS and to capture or kill suspects.
Delta Forces begin operations against ISIS in Iraq
The mission now is to use the new intelligence gleaned from raids and interrogations to develop further targeting for follow-up missions. Special Forces previously captured the wife of ISIS leader Abu Sayyaf during a raid in Syria last year and later turned over to Iraqi authorities. Officials have long said the information obtained from her helped them decide to create the team. American defense officials described the capture as a crucial development in battling the Islamic State but said it also raised questions about handling what is likely to be a growing group of detainees.
American military has mainly focused on fighting ISIS from the air and large numbers of ISIS fighters have been killed in Iraq and Syria by American airstrikes. The 200-member Special Operations team, made up of many Delta Force commandos, arrived in Iraq in recent weeks and is the first major American combat force on the ground there since the United States pulled out of the country at the end of 2011. The teams have set up safe houses and established informant networks. Defense Department officials say the commandos, referred to at the Pentagon as a “specialized expeditionary targeting force,” will almost certainly increase the intelligence on the Islamic State available to the United States, including information about current operations extracted from laptops and cellphones.
Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter told reporters Monday that the commando force was going strong. “It’s a tool that we introduced as part of the accelerated operations to conduct raids of various kinds, seizing places and people, freeing hostages and prisoners of ISIL, and making it such that ISIL has to fear that anywhere, anytime, it may be struck,” Mr. Carter said.