US forces capture 'significant' ISIS operative in Iraq: media

2016-03-02 20:28


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Washington - US commandos have captured a "significant" Islamic State operative in Iraq and are expected to seize several more in the coming months, The New York Times reported on Wednesday.

The issue raises questions about what will happen to the detainee and others like him, given that President Barack Obama has ruled out sending any more terror suspects to Guantanamo Bay and the United States does not want to create a holding centre for ISIS captives in Iraq.

US officials declined to identify the detainee to The Times, or say how much he had co-operated.

The detainee was captured by elite special operations troops who deployed to Iraq in recent weeks and whom the Pentagon calls a specialised expeditionary targeting force, or ETF.

The Pentagon has until now been tight-lipped about the team's operations, saying that discussing missions puts the elite fighters at risk.

The Times said the 200-member special operations team is made up of many Delta Force commandos.

Though it is small in number, it represents the first major US ground combat force since the official withdrawal of US troops at the end of 2011.

Another 3 870 or so US troops are in Iraq on a mission to train and support Iraqi forces fighting the IS group.

The Pentagon declined to confirm the report, saying it would not discuss the ETF's operations.

"The ETF has begun operations in Iraq. But we will not discuss the details of those missions when it risks compromising operational security," Pentagon spokesperson Captain Jeff Davis told AFP.

"One of the goals of the ETF is to capture ISIL leaders," he added, using an alternative acronym for the ISIS group.

"Any detention would be short-term and co-ordinated with Iraqi authorities."

Officials told The Times that US interrogators were with the detainee at a temporary detention facility in Erbil in northern Iraq.

He would eventually be handed over to Iraqi or Kurdish officials.

"We are not back in the business of having long-term detainees," a US defence official told AFP.

Obama is trying to close the controversial Guantanamo Bay prison, but is unlikely to succeed given staunch resistance in Congress.

Read more on:    isis  |  iraq  |  us

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