73 months of International Coalition operations in Syria | Intensive security campaigns… Ongoing military reinforcement… lack of transparent investigations with ISIS members
Syrian Observatory for Human Rights
October 23, 2020
Completing 73 consecutive month of military operations against the “Islamic State” in Syria, the International Coalitions is escalating its activities greatly in the northern and north-eastern Syria region through boosting its military power and intensifying joint security campaigns with SDF against ISIS cells.
In the past four months, the International Coalition greatly stepped up its operations in Aleppo and Idlib provinces, targeting jihadi groups and organizations operating there, the most influential of which is “Hurras Al-Din” organization. It is worth noting that the International Coalition strikes from late May to mid-September, 2020, targeted primarily prominent jihadi figures and senior commanders.
According to SOHR statistics, the Coalition carried out nine attacks on Idlib and Aleppo in the past four months. The majority of the attacks were carried out in June and July. The International Coalition started escalating its attacks on May 21, when a drone struck a car on the road to Sheikh Iskan in Jendires countryside in north-western Aleppo. This attack resulted in the death of an ex-ISIS commander, who used to travel in areas in Idlib and Jendires district in rural Afrin, while Turkish forces captured and held another person injured in the same attack.
While the latest attack occurred on 6464646when a US drone struck a “dinner gathering” in Jakarah village in Salqin countryside, near the Syria-Turkey border. The attack left 22 dead, five civilians and 17 jihadists.
It is worth noting that the jihadists killed were commanders and fighters who had split from Hayyaat Tahrir Al-Sham and agreed with “Hurras Al-Din” jihadi organization regarding the rejection the Russian-Turkish agreements of the “de-escalation zone”. Moreover, the fatalities included 11 ex-HTS commanders, five of whom were non-Syrians, as well as an ex-ISIS commander who later joined HTS.
In north and north-eastern Syria region, Syria Democratic Forces launched a security campaign on October 12, backed by the International Coalition Forces and helicopters, in Al-Madinah village in eastern Al-Shaddadi city in the southern countryside of Al-Hasakah. The security forces arrested four persons for “belonging to ISIS” and were taken later to an unknown destination.
A day earlier, the SDF-affiliated counter-terrorism units stormed Theban town in Deir Ezzor countryside, searching for suspects. It is worth noting that the security forces arrested members of the Iranian-backed militias and the regime-backed “National Defence Forces” (NDF) from the town.
While on 27 September, Syria Democratic Forces, backed by the International Coalition Forces, launched a security campaign in Al-Azeeb area in Al-Sabha village in the eastern countryside of Deir Ezzor. SDF security forces arrested two persons for unknown reasons.
Similarly, on September 25, Syria Democratic Forces, backed by International Coalition aircraft, launched a sweeping campaign in the north-eastern desert of Deir Ezzor near Syria-Iraqi border, searching for ISIS cells. This campaign came with a purpose of blocking the ways used by ISIS to travel between Syria and Iraq and smuggle their goods.
Meanwhile, the International Coalition continued bringing in military reinforcements, as a convoy of nearly 60 trucks carrying military and logistical supplies was seen, on September 21, crossing into Syria via Al-Walid border crossing with Kurdistan Region of Iraq. The trucks headed to Al-Qamishli, then to the International Coalition military base in Al-Hasakah province.
Abductees forgotten by Coalition and SDF
17 months have passed since the International Coalition’s official declaration of the elimination of Islamic State as a dominating force over east of the Euphrates River. Despite all the developments that took place over the past month, the Coalition and SDF’s silence continues regarding ISIS abductees. No details on the fate of thousands of abductees are provided; and no information about the results of the interrogations of ISIS member is available, as thousands are held by SDF and the Coalition, east of the Euphrates.
Concerns about the abductees’ lives and fate are growing, including the fate of father Paulo Dall’Oglio, Bishop John Ibrahim, Paul Yaziji, Abdullah al-Khalil, a British journalist, Sky News journalist, and other journalists, and hundreds of abductees from Ayn al-Arab (Kobani) and Afrin and other people from Deir Ezzor.
August 2020… another month passes and no investigation into alleged Coalition massacres
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights renew its appeals to all international actors, International Coalition and SDF to announce the results of interrogations with ISIS detainees and what happened to the thousands of abductees. The Syrian Observatory had previously called upon the international community to investigate reports regarding the killing of 200 ISIS operatives and their families, women and children, in a massacre committed by the Coalition’s jets by bombing al-Baghouz camp on March 21, 2019.
According to SOHR sources, 200 bodies were buried at dawn on that particular day, without information as to whether the International Coalition was aware of the presence of children and women from ISIS families inside the camp or not.
However, all these appeals remain unanswered. Therefore, SOHR renews its appeals to all relevant parties to announce the whole facts and hold accountable those responsible for the massacres and violations over the past five years during which the Coalition were actively involved in the Syrian crisis.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, while providing adequate monitoring of Coalition operations in Syria, stresses once more that it would have been possible to avoid the heavy losses of Syrian civilian lives if the International Coalition had not ignored SOHR’s calls to spare and protect civilians from its military operations, where the presence of Islamic State militants or other jihadist groups in a civilian area does not in any way justify the blank and discriminate bombardment of area and the loss of civilian lives.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also stresses that the negative impact of Turkish military intervention on civilians could have been avoided, if the US President had applied enough pressure on his Turkish counterpart to stop a new humanitarian crisis, displacing thousands and killing and injuring hundreds.
On the other hand, we at SOHR would like to remind the world that the oil and gas resources, controlled by the International Coalition, belong only to the Syrian people. Therefore, all the concerned parties are obliged under international laws and norms to preserve these resources and ensure that they will not be stolen or seized in any way; these resources do not belong to the “regime”, “Iran” or any other party; they belong only to the people of Syria, who have been suffering the brutalities of an ongoing war for over nine years. SOHR also warns of repercussions of exploiting these sources, seizing them or depriving the Syrians of their rights in resources.