The sleepy town of Atmeh, Syria, near the Northeastern Turkish border, got a rude awakening when U.S. special forces dropped by for a visit. Their target was a two-story building housing known Al Queda operatives. Following a fierce two-hour battle, the visit ended with 13 of the inhospitable militants dead, which included four women and six children.
Residents in the area that largely consists of encampments housing Syrian refugees trying to escape the country’s bloody civil war, said the explosive jolts and the gunfire were non-stop. They had no idea what was going on except for being able to identify the U.S. helicopters they could see.
The Pentagon isn’t ready to talk about the attack yet, except to say “The mission was successful.” Press secretary John Kirby added, “There were no U.S. casualties. More information will be provided as it becomes available.”
Atmeh is located in the Idlib province, which is held by Syrian rebels. Neighboring residents and on-site journalists for The Associated Press said they could see body parts surrounding the destroyed building.
This is the first raid on the province since 2019 when Donald Trump sent in the troops to blow up Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s car, with him in it.
All anyone knows at this point came from an Iraqui intelligence officer who said the target had been a high-ranking IS leader. Rumor has it the primary victim may have been Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, the current Islamic State’s big kahuna and successor to al-Baghdadi.
A resident from one of the refugee camps, Jamil el-Deddo, expressed the terror they all felt. “The first moments were terrifying, no one knew what was happening,” he said. “We were worried it could be Syrian aircraft, which brought back memories of barrel bombs that used to be dropped on us.” Barrel bombs were crudely constructed containers filled with explosives that were favored by President Bashar Assad during the Syrian conflict. They were homemade bombs.
First responders from the Syrian Civil Defense, commonly referred to as White Helmets, said what remained of the structure was splattered with blood from floor to ceiling. A crib lay totally demolished on a bedroom floor and a child’s blue plastic swing was still eerily attached to a portion of the remaining ceiling. The scene was gruesome.
Residents who witnessed the ground assault said some of the soldiers were screaming through megaphones telling women and children to immediately vacate the area.
Omar Saleh, who lives in the neighborhood, said that around 1:10 a.m. he could hear the helicopters as they were rattling his windows. Shortly after, he heard a man screaming in Arabic through a loudspeaker telling the women to leave. He said the man was speaking in Arabic and had either a Saudi or an Iraqi accent.
Omar said, “This went on for 45 minutes. There was no response. Then the machine gunfire erupted.” He said that during the entire two-hour battle choppers continuously circled low.
Residents both near and far have all reported hearing one gigantic explosion that rocked the planet. U.S. officials explained that away by saying one of the helicopters experienced some mechanical issues and was forced to land. Once it was on the ground, the troops had no choice but to blow it up so it wouldn’t fall into the wrong hands.
We know U.S. special forces pulled the job off and we’re sort of relatively certain who’s now trying to figure out how to handle his 70 new brides, but until the White House makes an official announcement, what you just read is what you get. We’ll update…