Conflict

SDF: Only 4 kilometres left of ISIS territory in Deir ez-Zour

Syria

According to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) the last enclave that remains under ISIS control in Deir ez-Zour Province lies between Baghuz and the Iraqi-Syrian border.

The militarily defeat of the Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria is imminent. According to the Syrian Democratic Force’s (SDF) operational commander, Hafal Roni, the militant group is cornered in an area that is no larger than four square kilometres. This last enclave, which lies in Syria’s Deir ez-Zour Province between the city of Baghuz and the Iraqi-Syrian border, is said to contain no more than 300 ISIS militants.

While the SDF continues to launch operations against the last ISIS-pocket, fighters have mentioned how the militant group is pushing back by sending suicide bombers to hinder the SDF’s approach.

According to some reports by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), the remaining enclave hosts many high ranking ISIS leaders, which may include the group’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

The capture of ISIS-held towns in Deir ez-Zour has resulted in over 950 people escaping their control. However, according to SDF officials, at least 200 of the escapees are ISIS militants and family members with non-Syrian nationalities. Individuals connected to ISIS are being transferred to US bases, although their fate is still uncertain. Until then, these individuals will be separated from the civilian population and kept in specialised holding facilities.

Given that this is the last ISIS enclave in the region, security apparatuses on both sides of the border remain very alert to prevent ISIS movements and infiltrations. The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) have set up border patrols and cameras across the border to prevent ISIS militants from escaping across the Syrian-Iraq border. Their operations are being backed by the International Coalition and the Iraqi Air Force, which are launching airstrikes against ISIS convoys trying to enter Iraq.

With ISIS’ military defeat approaching in Syria, the security forces in the country must cooperate with Iraq to exchange intelligence on remaining sleeper forces within the two countries.