ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The media center for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on Sunday announced they had arrested five foreign nationals on Dec. 30, including two Americans and one Irish citizen fighting with the Islamic State (IS) during an operation in Deir al-Zor.
The SDF said the five foreign nationals were arrested during an operation to “protect a large convoy of civilians” who were being targeted by IS.
“A group of terrorists, who had been preparing to attack the civilians who were trying to get out of the war zone in masses, was detected. Following long-term technical and physical follow-up, an operation against the cell was carried out by our forces,” a statement by the SDF read. “As a result of the operation, five terrorists originally from the United States, Ireland, and Pakistan were captured.”
The five foreign IS nationals included Warren Christopher Clark (34), nicknamed Abu Mohammed al-Amriki, from Houston, Alexandr Ruzmatovich Bekmirzaev (45) from Dublin, Ireland, Zaid Abed al-Hamed (35), also from the US, Fadel al-Rahman Jad (48), nicknamed Abu In’am al-Muhajir, from Lahore, Pakistan, and Abdul Adhim Rajhoud (19), nicknamed Abu Omar al-Pakistani, from Sialkot.
Until now, US-backed SDF partner forces continue to advance through the last remaining stronghold IS has in the region, rooting out the extremist group’s fighting positions.
The SDF said their forces have liberated “vast areas from the terrorist organization’s grip.”
“IS, which is now cornered in a small area after being cleared from large swathes of territory it once held, is suffering heavy losses,” the SDF asserted, adding that remaining cells are “surrounded in a small enclave.”
”They receive daily mortal blows from our fighters.”
The Kurdish news agency ANF reported in September that SDF commanders estimate there are 4,000 to 7,000 IS members in the last IS-held pocket, with most of the militants being foreign-born.
Editing by Nadia Riva