The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have launched their final operation in eastern Syria against ISIS. This operation is the last phase in the Jazira Storm Operations.
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are in control of much of northern and north-eastern Syria, although ISIS still retains a small pocket of territory near the Iraqi border in the easternmost area of Deir ez-Zour Province.
The military campaign in eastern Deir ez-Zour has been dubbed the Jazira Storm Operation and it involves the SDF as well as the International Coalition, which has been supporting local forces to uproot ISIS from the region. This last phase of the Jazira Storm Operation is said to involve around 6,000 fighters from the SDF.
The initial campaign was launched in early September 2017, just as the liberation operations in the city of Raqqa, formerly regarded as ISIS’ de facto capital in Syria, were reaching a conclusion. Nevertheless, the SDF have experienced several stumbling blocks on the way to clearing out ISIS in Deir ez-Zour.
The focus of attention shifted to the north-western regions of Syria where Turkish-backed rebel forces launched offensives against the People’s Protection Units (YPG), a major component of the SDF, and took over much of the Afrin Canton. Tensions in areas bordering territories held by those forces remain as calls to take over other SDF-held areas, especially Manbij, have been voiced on several occasions by Turkey and its allies in Syria.
Turkey and its allies are focusing more on the situation in Idlib Province, where the regime’s Syrian Arab Army (SAA) has initiated its offensive against the rebels there, leaving the SDF with more time and military personnel to pay attention to eastern Deir ez-Zour. Nonetheless, the YPG continues to report attacks against Turkish-backed rebels in an attempt to regain territory in the Afrin Canton.
There have been conflicting reports about the nature of clashes between the SDF and ISIS as both claim to making gains and causing losses against one another.