ISIS sleeper cells still remain active in certain secluded areas within Syria and the SDF are cooperating with tribes to take the cells down.
Despite the liberation of Raqqa City and its surroundings in October 2017, a number of ISIS sleeper cells have remained in the area and the terrorist group’s militants have been conducting intermittent attacks. The Internal Security Forces of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have been making efforts to detect and eradicate the remaining ISIS sleeper cells by cooperating with the region’s various tribes.
It is well known that the bulk of ISIS members in the region originate from tribal elements and so working tightly with the tribes themselves has been identified as the key to finding the ISIS sleeper cells.
“Communication with tribal leaders is important because the elements of these sleeper cells belong to these tribes. The tribal leaders cooperate with us and provide us with information about all those who belong to ISIS or any terrorist group”, said Ahmad Khalaf, a leader within the Internal Security Forces in Raqqa.
The Internal Security Forces are also working closely with other elements of the SDF as well as the International Coalition, which has been supporting the SDF in the fight against ISIS in the northern and eastern provinces of Syria.
“The security measures take place in coordination with the Syrian Democratic Forces, the International Coalition and tribal leaders through a joint operations room. These measures include intensive searches and inspections of vehicles and people at checkpoints, as well as night patrol with the help of field officers to eliminate cells trying to carry out terrorist acts”, remarked Muhammad Abu Aboud, an official from the Internal Security Forces.
The International Security Forces have set up checkpoints throughout Raqqa to stop and search vehicles and people in order to prevent the infiltration of terrorist elements.
Nevertheless, the SDF’s main focus in the fight against ISIS is on the ISIS-held pocket of territory in and around the town of Hajin, in Deir ez-Zour Province.