Conflict

SDF successfully counter ISIS as Hajin operations rage on

Syria

Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters responded to attacks in the north and west of Hajin, which led to the outbreak of clashes that killed dozens of ISIS militants and crippled their car bombs, according to an SDF military source.

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are continuing their offensive against ISIS in the Syrian city of Hajin, in eastern Deir ez-Zour Province. As part of the Jazira Storm Operations that were launched by the SDF in September 2017, the forces are advancing on the city of Hajin, despite sporadic counter-attacks and car-bomb attacks launched by ISIS. According to an SDF military source, the SDF launched counter attacks on areas north and west of Hajin, which resulted in the killing of dozens of ISIS militants.

The Jazira Storm Operations, which have been launched against ISIS in Deir ez-Zour Province, were halted in early 2018 due to clashes between the SDF and Turkish forces in the city of Afrin. However, the operations resumed in May 2018 with the aim of securing the Iraqi-Syrian border.

While the forces were initially able to secure over 64 kilometres of the border, ISIS launched a counterattack in October 2018, taking advantage of the poor weather conditions, which resulted in the retreat of the SDF forces and the recapture of towns previously liberated.

Immediately after this retreat, the Iraqi Popular Mobilisation Units (PMU) sent over 20,000 fighters to the secure the border in order to prevent ISIS’ infiltration into Iraq.

Despite this retreat, the SDF has been able to regroup and attack ISIS pockets on the outskirts of the last ISIS-held enclave on the eastern bank of the Euphrates river, liberating the Tanak field and surrounding areas.

The SDF’s internal forces have also succeeded in securing facilities and villages laden with mines planted by ISIS militants. The engineering teams in the SDF have announced that they have been able to dismantle and demine large quantities of explosives on the Khurafi road and in the village of Abu Hamam in Deir ez-Zour countryside.

The battle to liberate the province of Deir ez-Zour is considered a critical operation as it will be a strategic military defeat to ISIS in Syria. In Iraq, ISIS was defeated by the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and the PMU in December in 2017.

Since their defeat in Iraq, experts consider ISIS to be doomed militarily in the region, operating only through sleeper cells that the SDF, PMU, and ISF are continuing to clear in Syria and Iraq.