ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) - Raqqa Internal Security Forces (RISF), a police unit formed in 2017 after the fall of the Islamic State (IS) in the area, launched a crackdown on remaining IS cells on Friday.
“We carried out an operation against Daesh (IS) cells in Tabqa and its outskirts,” Iskender Mohammed Issa, a RISF commander told Kurdistan 24. However, he said, operations were limited to Tabqa, located in Raqqa Province.
“Our forces have implemented special operation against terrorist Daesh cells and the first outcome: by implementing the plan put by general security body of internal security forces to deter the Daesh terrorist cells plans,” the RISF said in a statement received by Kurdistan 24.
“This was documented through intelligence sources and our security forces with support from SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces) have arrested a number of individuals from those cells,” the statement added.
Mazen Hassoun, a journalist from Raqqa based in Germany, confirmed that operations were carried out, “in the southern, eastern, and the western parts of the countryside.”
The pro-Kurdish Hawar News Agency (ANHA) also reported that a large security operation was launched after approval of the Tabqa’s legislative council, following IS sleeper cell attacks in the province.
The RISF also limited residents’ movement. Two months ago, they imposed a two-day curfew in Raqqa after receiving information about possible attacks by IS militants.
“My general assessment is that there are IS cells operating in those areas; some of them slipped back into those areas quietly,” Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi, a research fellow at the Middle East Forum, told Kurdistan 24.
“It’s going to be a low scale problem, not fundamentally threatening. IS is not threatening to take over these areas. It’s a low-scale insurgent problem that’s going to persist for some time,” he concluded.
IS lost its self-proclaimed Syrian capital of Raqqa after four months of fierce fighting and bombing by the SDF and the US-led coalition, causing considerable damage to the city.
Security breaches in Raqqa and its surroundings have been on the rise over the past few weeks.
Editing by John J. Catherine