Conflict

The SDF Makes Further Gains Against ISIS East of the Euphrates

Syria

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) continue to push against the ISIS militants that control a small stretch of land along the Euphrates River.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) continue to push against ISIS militants along the east of the Euphrates River in Syria’s Deir ez-Zour Province. The anti-ISIS operations in the region, which resumed on May 1 after having been suspended earlier in 2018, have seen the SDF gain control of the Iraq-Syria Border along the Euphrates and gradually whittle down the ISIS militants in the region.

The area, which has been dubbed Wilayat Furat (Euphrates Province) by ISIS, consists of some 14 villages including two major towns, Hajin and al-Shafa. Despite the small size of the region, the large concentration of ISIS militants, many of whom are believed to be foreigners, has so far allowed the group to hold back the SDF, with some experts expressing concern that the group could regroup. Indeed, prior to the resumption of the anti-ISIS operations, the region witnessed increased frequency of ISIS attacks from the nearby ISIS pockets in the Jazira Region and the Syrian Desert.

The Syrian Observatory of Human Rights (SOHR) reported that the SDF has, so far, captured the village of Bahguz Tahtani (Lower Baghuz), effectively sealing the Euphrates section of the Iraqi border from ISIS. There have also been reports of the SDF capturing Baghuz Fawqani (Upper Baghuz) and parts of the town of Hajin. These gains were achieved through coordination with the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and support from the International Coalition, highlighting the region-wide effort taking place against the militants.

The increased momentum against ISIS militants in the Euphrates comes amidst increased strikes against the group’s holdings in the Jazira Region that covers the easternmost Hasakah and Deir ez-Zour Provinces. Meanwhile the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) has stepped up its attacks against the militants in the Syrian Desert.

Elsewhere in Syria, the SAA has defeated the ISIS militants in the Yarmouk Refugee Camp in southern Damascus City after a brutal weeks-long battle that left much of the camp in ruins. Further south in Daraa Province, the Free Syrian Army (FSA) factions have stepped up their attacks against the ISIS-affiliated Jaish Khalid Ibn al-Walid.