The primary target of the U.S. raid into Syria was a "senior leader" of Al Qaeda in Iraq's "extensive network that funnels foreign fighters, weapons, and cash" into the country, according to the Long War Journal.
U.S. special operations hunter-killer teams entered Syria in an attempt to capture Abu Ghadiya… who has been in charge of the Syrian network since 2005….
The raid to capture Ghadiya occurred in the town of Sukkariya…just five miles from the Iraqi border. Four U.S. helicopters crossed the border and two of the helicopters landed to drop off special operations forces…
Nine people were reported killed and 14 were wounded. Syrian officials claimed innocent construction workers and women and children were killed in the raid.
U.S. officials contacted by The Long War Journal would not comment if Ghadiya was killed or captured.
As Allen Thomson notes, this region has been a problem for U.S. operations in Iraq for years. So why hit it now? Juan Cole sees the attack as a way to "mak[e] sure that what the administration calls 'al-Qaeda in Iraq' did not have the means to mount a spectacular bombing or assassination campaign" that might impact the American election. I'm not sure I'm that cynical.
Meanwhile, the L.A. Times' Babylon & Beyond blog has its own theory: The raid might have been a kind of brushback pitch -- a way to keep Syria away from a key border base that's now been turned over to Iraqi forces.>>>
The U.S. military has been using killer drones to take out enemies for years. But those strikes have ordinarily targeted small groups, or lone individuals. Last night, an American pilotless plane reportedly killed 20 people during an attack on a militant compound in Pakistan. It could well be the deadliest drone strike ever.