Kurdish-led forces end operation aimed at clearing ISIS remnants from Syrian-Iraqi border area

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on Wednesday announced the end of a four day anti-ISIS operation near the Iraqi border. (Photo: SDF)
The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on Wednesday announced the end of a four day anti-ISIS operation near the Iraqi border. (Photo: SDF)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on Wednesday finished a four-day operation to clear areas in Syria located near the Iraqi border area province of various stores of weapons, tunnels, and other resources used by ISIS in its ongoing campaign of violence there.

During the operation, which focused on areas near Wadi al-Ajij in the province of Deir al-Zor, some 12 ISIS hideouts were demolished.

A number of smuggling routes & TUNLs [tunnels] were located & destroyed & WPN [weapon] caches were seized,” said Col. Wayne Marotto, a spokesperson for the US-led Coalition to Defeat ISIS, in a Twitter post on Wednesday.

“There’s no safe place for Daesh [ISIS] in NE Syria,” he added.

The SDF’s Coordination and Military Operations Center said in a Tuesday statement that “weapons caches and smuggling routes have been found.”

The SDF’s media center announced on Wednesday that the offensive had ended, explaining, “The operation lasted for four days accompanied by the continuous flight of international coalition aircraft that conducted missile strikes targeting specific positions used by Daesh cells in the area.”

“The forces were able to sweep parts of the Wadi al-Ajij area in order to detect smuggling routes used by Daesh to infiltrate inside northern and eastern Syria and to move terrorist cells to and from Iraq.”

The SDF announced last Sunday that they, along with the anti-ISIS coalition, had launched the military campaign.

Read More: Backed by coalition forces, Kurdish-led SDF launches operation against ISIS near Iraqi border

Although the SDF and the coalition announced the territorial defeat of ISIS in Syria in March 2019, sleeper cell attacks persist, especially in areas once controlled by the extremist group, in what appears to be a deliberate campaign to destabilize the area.

On May 4, a Pentagon Inspector General report covering the first quarter of 2021 (January 1 – March 31) quoted the Defense Intelligence Agency as saying, “ISIS continues to use the permeable border between Iraq and Syria to smuggle members and affiliates to safe havens it has established in rural and permissive areas, where it can conceal its operations and leaders, avoid security patrols, and intimidate the local population.”

Nicholas Heras, a Senior Analyst at the Washington, DC-based Newlines Institute, previously told Kurdistan 24 that “ISIS has created a transit zone in the semi-steppe area between Iraq and Syria. ISIS uses this transit route for safe haven and as territory to network its operatives between Iraq and Syria.”

Editing by John J. Catherine