ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Islamic State sleeper cells on Monday targeted a demining convoy of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in northeastern Syria, deep behind the Kurdish-led forces’ lines.
Mustafa Bali, the head of the SDF’s media center, announced the incident on Twitter.
According to Bali, sleeper cells belonging to the terror group launched a suicide attack on a team of SDF forces in Shaddadi, south of Hasakah.
The attack only caused material damage “thanks to the timely response by security forces,” he added.
ISIS sleeper cells conducted an attack with suicide bombers on a convoy consisting of demining teams in Shaddadi, south of Hasakah today causing only material damage thanks to the timely response by security forces.— Mustafa Bali (@mustefabali) May 20, 2019
“While there are no casualties, this attack is yet another indicator of the menace posed by ISIS sleeper cells in the region,” Bali warned.
He affirmed that the Kurdish-led forces would remain committed in their efforts to deny the Islamic State “freedom of movement and wipe its remnants and ideology off the society.”
While there are no casualties, this attack is yet another indicator of the menace posed by ISIS sleeper cells in the region. We will remain comitted to our efforts of denying ISIS freedom of movement and wipe its remnants and ideology off the society.— Mustafa Bali (@mustefabali) May 20, 2019
Sleeper cell attacks continue to pose a threat in Syria’s northeast, especially in Deir al-Zor province, despite the territorial defeat of the Islamic State at the hands of the SDF on March 23, 2019.
Nicholas A. Heras, a Fellow at the Center for a New American Security, believes the terror group wants to show the US-led coalition that the SDF cannot protect it from casualties in Syria.
“This attack was deep behind the SDF’s lines in an area that is supposed to be secure from ISIS,” Heras told Kurdistan 24.
“The attack drives home the point that northern and eastern Syria remains a warzone and that ISIS may be beaten for now, but it will take more effort to beat it forever.”
The Washington-based analyst said Monday’s attack could only have been facilitated by locals working with the terror group, “which should concern the SDF greatly.”
According to a recent report by a Pentagon Watchdog, the threat of Islamic State private networks and sleeper cells within Syria remains.
The report stated that according to the US-led coalition, the Islamic State still “maintains some support among Sunni Arabs along the Euphrates River and other Arab-majority areas due to tribal affiliations.”
“ISIS wants to put the Coalition on notice that it is far from dead, and that the SDF cannot secure it,” Heras said.
US Col. James Scott Rawlinson, a spokesperson for the US-led coalition, told Kurdistan 24 last week that the US-led coalition will continue to train internal security forces in Syria.
The goal is to “enable their offensive operations in order to continue pressuring remnants of Da’esh [Arab acronym for ISIS].”
The official also confirmed that the Islamic State remains a threat in both Iraq and Syria.
SDF-operations are ongoing in Syria to clear territory once controlled by the terrorist group.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany