This puts the death toll at much higher than reported by the Pentagon, and confirms the Syrian claim that a group of ISIS leaders, not just one, were killed.
The exact circumstances of the raid may not be known for some time. But the political context in which it takes place suggests a significant escalation by the Obama administration.
The raid is the fourth US special forces operation in the Middle East in less than a year, including an unsuccessful raid last summer on an ISIS facility in Raqqa, allegedly to rescue US hostages who were later executed, and two unsuccessful raids in Yemen in November and December, supposedly to rescue an American held prisoner by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). The American AQAP prisoner and a South African fellow captive were killed during the second raid.
Meanwhile, US-led airstrikes on ISIS targets across eastern Syria continue. In the 24 hours ending Sunday morning, the Pentagon reported eight bombing attacks, including six near the city of Hasakah, in the northeast, and two near Kobani, a Kurdish-populated town where a lengthy ISIS siege was broken by US saturation bombing.
In an editorial published May 13, the Washington Post urged the Obama administration to openly declare the goal of its intervention in Syria to be the overthrow of the Assad government. Pointing to the mounting disagreements between Obama and the Gulf sheikdoms, reflected in the near-boycott of last week's Camp David meeting by four of the six Gulf monarchs, the Post declared, "But there is a way that Mr. Obama could serve both US interests and those of the Gulf allies: by attacking the Middle East's most toxic and destabilizing force, the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria."