Syria: A joint force of the US-led coalition and Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) captured a prominent leader of the Islamic State (IS) in Deir al-Zor Province in eastern Syria, it was revealed by local media on Saturday.
Osama Awaid Al-Ibrahim, or Abu Zeid, known as the second man after IS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was caught on Thursday in the SDF-held village of Al-Tayyana east of the Euphrates River, the Center of Coordination and Military Operations (CCMO) reported.
Abu Zeid was captured by a joint US-SDF patrol while hiding in a tunnel under a house with the intent of blowing himself up. His sister, who was already with the patrol, prevented him and led to his capture, the SDF-affiliated center said.
The center added that he was caught in possession of 20 mobile phones, 80 gold ingots, and large sums of money.
The SDF had already found a weapons depot in Al-Tayyana, and investigations pointed to Abu Zeid as the ringleader, managing a network affiliated to IS from his secret location under the house, the center confirmed.
Additionally, the Syrian pro-opposition news website Zaman al-Wasl reported on Thursday that a US-SDF patrol captured Dhef Al-Melash, who served as Public Relations Officer in Al Busayrah and its surrounding countryside and then IS Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation.
Zaman al-Wasl further commented that Al-Melash and several IS sleeper agents have been active in SDF-held areas in collusion with some SDF members who used to inform him of unscheduled patrols.
The fighting, which intensified over the past few days in the IS-held area of Hajin, is the latest phase by the US-led coalition and SDF to eliminate IS’ foothold east of the Euphrates River following last year’s defeat of the group in Raqqa, its Syrian headquarters.