Five senior ISIS leaders have been captured and detained following a cross-border sting operation that was conducted by Iraqi and American intelligence officials.
One of the men was a top aide to ISIS’ leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, according to two Iraqi officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity, the Straits Times reported.
President Donald Trump confirmed on Thursday that the five “most-wanted” ISIS leaders have been captured.
Five Most Wanted leaders of ISIS just captured!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 10, 2018
The group of senior ISIS leaders was in hiding in Syria and Turkey, and their arrest was part of a three-month sting operation.
— ST Foreign Desk (@STForeignDesk) May 9, 2018
The arrested included four Iraqis and one Syrian, all of whom were in charge of governing ISIS’ territory around Deir ez-Zor, Syria, and directing internal security and running the administrative body that oversees religious rulings.
Reuters said Iraqi state TV showed the five men in yellow prisoner outfits and called them “some of the most wanted” leaders of the group.
The arrests have been confirmed by a statement from Iraq’s external intelligence agency, but no details were given.
The two anonymous Iraqi officials said that an Iraqi intelligence unit tracking undercover operations tailed Ismail Alwaan al-Ithawi, an Iraqi known by the assumed name Abu Zeid al-Iraqi, from Syria to the Turkish city of Sakarya, about 99 miles east of Istanbul.
Ithawi was arrested on Feb. 15 by Turkish security forces and handed over to Iraq.
The Iraqis said that Ithawi, who was living in Turkey, was a top aide to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Information about the other ISIS leaders came from Ithawi during his weeks of interrogation, which led to their capture and arrest, according to the officials.
The information from Ithawi was also used by the U.S.-led Coalition to launch an airstrike in mid-April that killed 39 suspected ISIS members near Hajin, in the Deir ez-Zor district of Syria.
Ithawi was ordered to get in touch with his ISIS associates who were hiding out in Syria and persuade them to cross the border.
They were arrested by Iraqi authorities after they crossed the border.
Two of those arrested included Saddam al-Jammel, a Syrian who had been the head of the ISIS territory around Deir ez-Zor, and Abu Abdel al-Haq, an Iraqi who had been the head of internal security for ISIS.