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Survivor of US' Idlib operation recalls 'leave or die' threat of American soldiers

February 3, 2022 at 3:03 pm

US forces in Syria, 14 February 2019 [FADEL SENNA/AFP/Getty Images]

One of the survivors of a US operation in Syria’s north-western province of Idlib claimed that American soldiers threatened her and her family to leave their house for the sake of their lives, Anadolu News Agency reports.

A Syrian woman, one of the eye-witnesses of a US operation in Idlib on early Thursday targeting a member of the terrorist organisation, Daesh that killed 13 people, including six children and four women, told Anadolu Agency: “We were sleeping when the planes arrived. Doors and window panes of our house broke down due to explosions and bullets.”

Requesting anonymity, she said the US soldiers asked the people in “the first, second, and third houses” to leave their houses immediately.

“If you don’t leave in 10 minutes, we’ll destroy your house and you’ll die,” the soldiers threatened them, according to the Syrian woman.

Scared, she, along with her husband and children, immediately left the house, she recalled, adding: “American soldiers made my husband lie down on his face, handcuffed. I was so scared when I saw him like that.”

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“Leave or you’ll die. Come out here; put your children on the ground and remove your scarf,” she recalled the horror, quoting the US soldiers as threatening her.

‘They took my children, tied my hands’

She said the soldiers launched a rocket towards her house as she did not go out.

“They told me that I would be safe outside. Ultimately, I did go out when my husband told me to do so,” she stressed.

“About four or five of them ran towards me. They took my children away from me and tied up my hands,” she said, adding that the soldiers, then, started asking questions.

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“They interrogated me. I answered their questions randomly, for them not to take my children from me,” she lamented.

Mentioning that there was a soldier with an Iraqi accent among the US soldiers, she said she and her family had been questioned for hours, and were not allowed to re-enter their house.


The operation targeted an individual suspected to be affiliated with the Daesh terrorist group, with the support of an F-16 fighter jet and a helicopter.

An airdrop was launched at 1.20 a.m., local time (2220GMT), from the helicopter to a house near Atma village.

“At around 00.30 (2130GMT), there was a noise coming from outside; I thought it was a flood. When I got out and looked, the helicopters were hovering above, and one of the helicopters was calling with a megaphone,” a villager told Anadolu Agency on condition of anonymity due to fear of reprisal.

Gunshots were then heard from near the house, after US soldiers asked people to surrender, according to the resident who said the neighbouring homes were damaged in the operation.

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The raid claimed the lives of 13 people, including six children and four women, said civil defence teams working on the wreckage.

Security sources told Anadolu Agency that the US troops had departed the site, with a survivor in tow.

Footage captured by an Anadolu Agency team at the scene showed some walls and ceilings of the house collapsed due to bombs thrown during the raid, a kitchen partly burned, all the furniture destroyed and traces of blood on the floors.

According to local sources, the operation may have targeted one of the most wanted ringleaders of the Daesh terrorist group.

Commenting on the operation, US Pentagon Press Secretary, John Kirby, said in a brief statement that the operation was successful.

Kirby stated that there were no casualties from the US side and that more information will be shared when available.

In a written statement Thursday, Joe Biden announced the counter-terrorism operation in north-western Syria “to protect the American people and our Allies, and make the world a safer place.”

Saying that the US Armed Forces have “taken off the battlefield Abu Ibrahim Al-Hashimi Al-Qurayshi — the leader of Daesh”, Biden further noted that all US forces safely returned from the operation.

“I will deliver remarks to the American people later this morning,” he added.

Abu Ibrahim Al-Hashimi Al-Qurayshi was named the new leader of Daesh in 2019 after the US killing of Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi earlier that year.

In October 2019, the US announced that Daesh leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was killed in a similar operation in Idlib.