ISIS in July 2022 | Escalating attacks in Syrian desert in light of Russia’s preoccupation with war in Ukraine and ongoing activity in east Euphrates • The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights
The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights

ISIS in July 2022 | Escalating attacks in Syrian desert in light of Russia’s preoccupation with war in Ukraine and ongoing activity in east Euphrates

Although the Counter-ISIS International Coalition command and the leaders of Syria Democratic Forces announced the elimination of the so-called Caliphate of the “Islamic State” in March 2019, recent developments on the ground indicate that ISIS has not been fully eliminated. ISIS continues launching military operations and counter-attacks which are met with security campaigns by Coalition forces and their Syria Democratic Forces partner throughout SDF-controlled areas, in addition to military operations by Russian and regime forces against ISIS cells in areas under their control. However, ISIS cells are still able to exploit opportunities to create a security vacuum and carry out assassinations, which clearly indicates that the “Islamic State” is still alive and kicking.


In the 96th month after the declaration of “Al-Baghdadi’s Caliphate”, ISIS carried out over seven operations, including armed attacks and explosions, in areas controlled by SDF, killing eight persons: three civilians, including a woman, and five combatants.


In the Syrian desert, however, ISIS operations continued in areas under the control of the Syrian regime and its allies, despite the ongoing intensive airstrikes by Russian jets and periodical security campaigns by regime forces and Russian and regime-backed militias. ISIS managed to escalate its attacks on regime forces and their proxy militias in the Syrian desert, especially in Al-Rasafah desert, the surrounding areas of Jabal Al-Bishri in Al-Raqqah, the frontlines of Ithriyah and other frontlines in the eastern countryside of Hama, the desert of Al-Sukhnah, Palmyra in Homs countryside, Deir Ezzor desert and the administrative border between Al-Raqqah and Deir Ezzor.


According to SOHR statistics, ISIS managed to kill seven regime soldiers and proxy militiamen in five attacks in the Syrian desert in the past month.


While ISIS lost five members in clashes with regime forces and Russian airstrikes on ISIS hideouts in Homs, Deir Ezzor, Al-Raqqah and Hama desert.


Accordingly, the number of fatalities in military operations in the Syrian desert since early 2022 has increased to 286; and they are as follows:


  • 136 ISIS members were killed in Russian airstrikes on ISIS hideouts in the deserts of Homs, Al-Suwaidaa, Hama, Al-Raqqah, Deir Ezzor and Aleppo.


  • 150 members of regime forces and their proxy militias were killed in 54 operations by ISIS members, including ambushes, armed attacks and explosions, in west Euphrates region and the deserts of Deir Ezzor, Al-Raqqah, Homs, Al-Suwaidaa, Hama and Aleppo.



Islamic State’s abductees: ignored and unaccounted


Although nearly 40 months have passed since the International Coalition’s announcement of the defeat of ISIS which was a dominant force east of Euphrates River, and with the recent developments over the past period, however, silence still surrounds the issue of ISIS’s abductees. All sides remain quiet and provide no clarification on the fate of thousands of abductees, where fear continues to grow for the lives and fate of the abductees, including Father Paolo Daololio, Bishops John Ibrahim and Paul Yazji, Abdullah Al Khalil, a British journalist, sky News journalist and other journalists, in addition to hundreds of abductees from Ain Al Arab (Kobani) area and Afrin, as well as the people of Deir Ezzor.


With the continuing crimes and violations against Syrian civilians, including death threats against SOHR workers by the Islamic State and other killers and criminals in Syria, The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights renews its vows to continue its work by monitoring, documenting and publishing all violations and crimes that committed against the Syrian people.


We, at the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, renew our call to the UN Security Council to refer those war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Syria to the International Criminal Court so that all the criminals and killers of the Syrian people are brought to justice.


SOHR has been all along warning against ISIS resurgence and stressing that the defeat of ISIS in Syrian territory, as declared in 2019, was “symbolic”, as ISIS has been only eliminated as a controlling power in populated areas. The daily attacks by ISIS fighters and cells throughout Syria, clearly indicate that the “Islamic State” is still alive and kicking. While the frequent security campaigns and military operations by regime forces, Russia, International Coalition and SDF have all failed so far to curb or hinder ISIS’s escalating activities.


The Syrian Observatory also points out that it had already warned, well before “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” declared itself as a “Caliphate State” in Syria and Iraq, that this organization did intend to work for the Syrian people and serve their interest, but rather ISIS continued to kill innocent Syrians, who had been suffering the brutality of war and violence and became displaced.


Furthermore, the “Islamic State” recruited children in the so-called “cubs of the caliphate”, controlled the wealth and resources of the Syrian people and harnessed them to build a “caliphate”, and traded openly back and forth with one of Syria’s neighbouring country.