President Donald Trump heralded the capture of five senior ISIS terrorist group officials as part of a sting operation by American, Iraqi, and Turkish forces.
“Five Most Wanted leaders of ISIS just captured!” Trump wrote on Twitter on Thursday.
Those captured include four Iraqis and one Syrian and include the top aide to the leader of ISIS, according to the New York Times.
The three-month operation began when an Iraqi intelligence unit tracked down Ismail Alwaan al-Ithawi, also known as Abu Zeid al-Iraqi, to the Turkish city of Sakarya.
Ithawi was a top aide to the leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al- Baghdadi, according to the Iraqis. Ithawi was issued religious rulings for ISIS, oversaw the terrorist group’s indoctrination curriculum, and was part of a group that appointed leaders to head branches of ISIS.
The Iraqis coordinated with the Turks to capture Ithawi and extradite him to Iraq. Once there, he was interrogated and surrendered intelligence over the course of several weeks.
The information Ithawi surrendered was used by American officials to coordinate a coaltion strike in mid-April that killed 39 ISIS members.
The American and Iraqi intelligence operatives then coerced Ithawi to lure several fellow terrorists hiding in Syria to cross the border to Iraq where a trap had been set for them.
The Iraqis arrested the group shortly after they corssed the border. The group included Saddam al-Jammel, a regional ISIS leader in charge of the territory around Deir al-Zour. The head of internal security at ISIS, Abu Abdel al-Haq, was also among those captured.
Iraq had described the capture of the Islamic State commanders as “some of the most wanted” leaders of the group.
Trump announced the captures hours after he met three Americans citizens freed from prison in North Korea.
Reuters contributed to this report.