The Syrian Democratic Forces have announced the resumption of Operation Jazira Storm to defeat the ISIS militants that still occupy the deserts of Deir ez-Zour and Hasakah.
On Tuesday, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) announced the resumption of Operation Jazira Storm against ISIS militants in Deir ez-Zour. SDF spokesperson Kino Gabriel told reporters that the resumption of the operations represent the final push against the ISIS militants who continue to occupy a pocket of territory along the Syrian-Iraqi Border, as well as the northern banks of the Euphrates.
The resumption of the Operation Jazira Storm comes over two months after it was suspended. The suspension of the operation was due to the SDF redeploying many of its standing troops in Deir ez-Zour to defend the city of Afrin from Turkey and the Syrian National Army (SNA) rebels under the Operation Olive Branch.
The redeployment of the SDF troops to Afrin not only failed to prevent the loss of the city, but it also provided ISIS militants in the desert region covering Deir ez-Zour and Hasakah to regroup. The militants intensified their attacks not only on the SDF-held towns and villages along the Jazira region, but also the Syrian Arab Army (SAA)-held Albu Kamal. Cross-border attacks into Iraq have also picked up in recent weeks.
According to Mr. Gabriel, the securing of the Syrian-Iraqi Border, consisting of over 100 villages, will be achieved through cooperation with the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF). Although the ISF or the Iraqi Government has not confirmed such a development, the Iraqi Air Force recently targeted ISIS positions along the borderlands.
Once the borderlands have been cleared, the SDF intends to move its fighters to capture the small ISIS pocket located along the Euphrates River. This small pocket, consisting of 14 villages, including towns such as Hajin and Sha’fah, is highly populated with militants and has so far eluded capture.
Since announcing the resumption of the operations, the SDF has announced making gains along both the Syrian-Iraqi Border and the Euphrates pocket. In particular, the SDF has pushed to capture the village of Abu Hassan in a bid to split Hajin from Sha’fah.
The loyalists of the Syrian Government are watching these developments carefully. Although the SAA and the SDF have cooperated in the past and maintain a degree of cooperation, tensions between the two sides run high in Deir ez-Zour. Last Sunday, the two sides engaged in skirmishes around the northern suburbs of Deir ez-Zour City.