Days after Obama's official account of the May 2011 bin Laden execution had been severely jeopardized by Seymour Hersh's latest report, and when even official media outlets were forced to admit the White House's story was fabricated before being forced to retract, overnight the administration served its latest distraction to the American people when first thing this morning the press was ablaze with reports that US commandos had raided the eastern Syria town of al-Amr, where they killed a senior Islamic State commander, identified as one Abu Sayyaf, ISIS' "oil minister" in charge of the Islamic State's oil and gas operations.
And since no US forces were killed or injured in this latest US intervention in a sovereign nation under the guise of fighting global terrorism, it was a happy ending for all those who staged the incursion, or as may be the case once again, merely "staged" the entire story.
As AP reports, while the U.S.-led coalition has been striking Islamic State militants in Syria since last year, this was only the second time troops have carried out a ground raid. A previous operation last summer was aimed at rescuing Americans held hostage by the group, but failed to recover any.
Below is the White House statement by NSC spokesperson Bernadette Meehan on the Operation in Syria:
Last night, at the President’s direction, U.S. personnel based out of Iraq conducted an operation in al-Amr in eastern Syria to capture an ISIL senior leader known as Abu Sayyaf and his wife Umm Sayyaf. During the course of the operation, Abu Sayyaf was killed when he engaged U.S. forces.
Umm Sayyaf was captured and is currently in U.S. military detention in Iraq. The operation also led to the freeing of a young Yezidi woman who appears to have been held as a slave by the couple. We intend to reunite her with her family as soon as feasible.
No U.S. personnel were killed or injured during this operation.
Abu Sayyaf was a senior ISIL leader who, among other things, had a senior role in overseeing ISIL’s illicit oil and gas operations – a key source of revenue that enables the terrorist organization to carry out their brutal tactics and oppress thousands of innocent civilians. He was also involved with the group’s military operations. We suspect that Umm Sayyaf is a member of ISIL, played an important role in ISIL’s terrorist activities, and may have been complicit in the enslavement of the young woman rescued last night.
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. This operation was conducted with the full consent of Iraqi authorities and, like our existing airstrikes against ISIL in Syria, consistent with domestic and international law.
We are working to determine an ultimate disposition for the detainee that best supports the national security of the United States and of our allies and partners, consistent with domestic and international law. We will follow our usual practice with respect to giving the ICRC notification and access to the detainee.
As Commander-in-Chief, the President is grateful to the brave U.S. personnel who carried out this complex mission as well as the Iraqi authorities for their support of the operation and for the use of their facilities, which contributed to its success. The United States will continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our Iraqi partners in our effort to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL.
Some more details on the US version of events from CNN:
There was hand-to-hand combat during the operation, which was helicopter-borne, the sources told CNN.
About a dozen ISIS fighters were killed in the firefight at a residential building in Deir Ezzor, the sources said.
Meanwhile, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a London-based monitoring group, said at least 19 ISIS militants had been killed by coalition bombing targeting ISIS' location in al-Omar oil field in eastern Deir Ezzor in the early hours of Saturday.
As a reminder, the "Syrian Observation for Human Rights" is the UK-funded outlet that periodically releases fabricated YouTube clips of Syrian chemical attacks.
What is curious is that according to the White House the incursion into Syrian territory was "consistent with domestic and international law" and was "conducted with the full consent of Iraqi authorities." Which is odd because last time we checked, Syria was not in Iraq. Must be one of those US-exemption loopholes that apply to "domestic and interenational law" we have heard so much about.
So did the US coordinate with Syria?
"The U.S. government did not coordinate with the Syrian regime, nor did we advise them in advance of this operation," said Meehan said.
"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."
Oh, that international law.
But what is most curious is that even before the official US report, Syrian state TV reported that Syrian government forces killed at least 40 IS fighters, including a senior commander in charge of oil fields, in an attack Saturday on the country's largest oil field -- held by IS. It identified the commander as Abu al-Teem al-Saudi. The name indicates he was a Saudi citizen.
Even more curious, the U.S. did not provide the full name of the militant identified as Abu Sayyaf. There was no information immediately available on jihadist websites. In fact all the US has said is that Sayyaf was a "senior ISIL leader who, among other things, had a senior role in overseeing ISIL's illicit oil and gas operations -- a key source of revenue that enables the terrorist organization to carry out their brutal tactics and oppress thousands of innocent civilians."
As CNN further adds, "Abu Sayyaf is not a name familiar to many ISIS watchers."
Is that perhaps because it was completely made up?
Last time we checked, however, even senior ISIL leaders have official passports belonging to official countries. The suggestion is that said ISIL leader was neither Syrian nor Iraqi but Saudi Arabian.
So in short: both the US and Syria agree that there was a fight overnight in which a senior ISIS leader was killed following a firefight with either US or Syrian forces, a leader who the US has not fully identified, and which the Syrian claim is a gentleman with the name of Abu al-Teem al-Saudi.
Suddenly the recent snubbing of Obama by Saudi King Salman makes much more sense.
The only question is if now that ISIS' oil minister - Saudi or not - is out of the picture and Saudi Arabia the "terrorist regime" can no longer flood the world market with ultra cheap oil to crush US shale producers, will this have a proportional impact on the price of oil?