U.S. Special Operations Raid Into Syria
On the evening of the 27th of October 2008, a fleet of helicopters carried U.S. commandos across the Iraq-Syria border on a controversial operation.
4 helicopters, believed to be MH-60 Black Hawks operated by the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, flew low over the border area of Abu Kamal. Their target was a building site situated at the village of Sukkariyeh that was suspected of being the base of operations for Badran Turki Hashim al-Mazidih, also known as Abu Ghadiya, an Al-Qaeda commander responsible for smuggling large quantities of guns, money and terrorists into Iraq.
It is thought that the plan was to swoop in quickly, snatch Ghadiya, then make a quick exit in as stealthy and bloodless manner as possible. Abu Ghadiya, an Islamic Fundamentalist, was also an enemy of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's secular regime and was responsible for a car bomb attack in Damascus. According the British Newspaper, The Times, the Syrians gave their blessing for the raid and even went as far as providing intelligence on Abu Ghadiya's location. It is then believed that SIGINT assets, possibly including the ISA, then tracked Ghadiya's cell phone, ensuring he would be home when the SOF came calling.
As is often the case with high-risk special ops, not everything went to plan. Eye-witness reports describe the U.S. Black Hawks coming under ground fire, including rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), as they approached their insertion points. The U.S. SOF, most likely either Delta Force or DEVGRU operators, were inserted onto the ground by 2 of the MH-60s while the other 2 helicopters provided covering fire. A fierce gun battle raged as the site's defenders were engaged from both the ground and air until no more resistance was met. During the battle it is believed that Abu Ghadiya was killed and his body taken back on one of the helos, which returned to Iraqi airspace. Up to 7 Syrians were believed to have been killed during the raid.
While the raid was a success in military terms, it was highly controversial. Syria, willing to support a covert action against a mutual foe but not a very public, messy raid that this operation turned into, protested loudly and vigorously while the press around the world condemned the U.S. 'aggression'.
Related Links & Media :Syria accuses U.S. in deadly helicopter attack
Questions raised over Syrian complicity in US raid
(UK Times report)
Fox news : (includes cell phone footage of US helos taking part in the raid)
UK Channel 4 news report :