96th month of Coalition operations in Syria | Ongoing reinforcements…continuous chase of ISIS commanders in NE Syria…considerable military escalation against Iranian-backed militias
Completing the 96th consecutive month of military operations against the “Islamic State” in Syria, the International Coalition continues sending military reinforcement to SDF-held areas, carrying out raids, arrests and various security campaigns in several areas controlled by SDF. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, in turn, tracked and monitored all operations and movement of the International Coalition during the last month.
In the 96th month of International Coalition operations in Syria, 200 trucks and vehicles affiliated to the Coalition, carrying military and logistical supplies, crossed into Syria from the Kurdistan Region of Iraq in five batches on the 23rd of August and the 3rd, 5th, 6th and 8th of September. The trucks headed to the Coalition’s military bases in Al-Hasakah and Deir Ezzor in north-east Syria region.
In the past month, SOHR activists also documented the participation of the International Coalition in six joint security operations with SDF, namely, raids and airdrops, arresting six members of ISIS cells.
Also, these operations left three ISIS members dead, where SDF and International Coalition Forces launched a security operation, on September 2, in Al-Takihy village in Deir Ezzor countryside to arrest a commander of ISIS security service “Al-Hisba,” while he was in the house of his relative in the village. According to reliable SOHR sources, the commander, who was known as “Saif,” was hiding in Al-Takihy village and tried to escape after hearing helicopters flying over the region, where an International Coalition drone opened fire on him, killing him immediately.
While on September 20, SDF and the International Coalition Forces carried out a security operation on Tuesday dawn in Al-Baidar village in Al-Karamah district in eastern Al-Raqqah countryside. The campaign’s objectives manifested in the arrest of two ISIS leaders. However, the clashes erupted between the raiding force and the wanted men, leaving an ISIS member and his son dead, and another son injured.
Moreover, in the 96th month of Coalition operations in Syria, International Coalition Forces and SDF conducted three rounds of live-fire exercises at their military bases in Deir Ezzor and Al-Hasakah.
The most prominent round was documented on September 7 when International Coalition and SDF conducted joint military manoeuvres in Taqul Baql village in Al-Malikiyah area at the Syrian-Iraqi-Turkish border triangle. The manoeuvres included live-fire exercises with heavy and medium weapons, and other exercises on reconnaissance, tracking “terrorist cells,” striking them and preventing them from posing a threat to civilians. It is worth noting that those were the first manoeuvres to be conducted at Syrian-Iraqi-Turkish border triangle.
In the Syrian desert, however, International Coalition Forces and Jaysh Maghawir Al-Thawra conducted live-fire exercises in the 55-kilometre zone, near the Syria-Iraq- Jordan border triangle, on September 13.
In the past month, specifically in the last ten days of August, exchange of ground fire between International Coalition Forces and Iranian-backed militias increased alarmingly. According o SOHR sources, Iranian-backed militias stationed in west Euphrates region targeted military positions of the International Coalition in Al-Omar oil field and Koniko gas field, before Coalition Forces responded by aerial and ground attacks targeting positions of these militias in Deir Ezzor.
SOHR documented five airstrikes by the International Coalition in those ten days, which killed 11 militiamen and caused considerable damage to the targeted sites. Here are further details of these airstrikes:
- August 24: Six Iranian-backed militiamen were killed in more than three airstrikes with high-explosive missiles. The attack also destroyed warehouses in Ayyash area and “Al-Sa’ka” camp, one the headquarters of the Afghan militia of “Liwaa Fatemiyoun.”
- August 24: Three Iranian-backed militiamen were killed in an attack by the International Coalition on a rocket launcher which had been stationed nearby Deir Ezzor city.
- August 25: Two Iranian-backed Syrian militiamen were killed in heavy machinegun fir by a Coalition helicopter on positions of Iranian-backed militias near the industrial high school, “Al-Wehda Al-Irshadiyah” (the Guidance Units) the headquarters of Al-Baath Party in Al-Mayadeen city in eastern Deir Ezzor.
- August 25: A drone struck the vicinity of the industrial area in Al-Mayadeen city in the eastern countryside of Deir Ezzor.
- August 25: International Coalition helicopters opened heavy machinegun fire on positions of Iranian-backed militias near the areas of Al-Kornish, Al-Tanmiyah Al-Rifiyah and Dawwar Al-Taybah in Al-Mayadeen city in the east of Deir Ezzor province.
On September 19, SOHR sources in areas held by Iranian-backed militias in Al-Mayadeen area and its surrounding west Euphrates region confirmed that Iranian-backed militias did not fire any missiles or shells on International Coalition base in Al-Omar oil field east of Euphrates on the previous day.
Sources in SDF informed the Syrian Observatory that US forces assured them that the explosions which were heard in the vicinity of Al-Omar oil field on that day were caused by military exercises. Following the explosions, US helicopters flew over the area.
The US Department of Defense had announced that its military base in Al-Omar field came under a failed rocket attack. Meanwhile, SOHR sources confirmed that no rockets were fired from areas dominated by Iranian-backed militias and suggested that the rockets may be fired by ISIS cells or cells affiliated to Iranian-backed militias stationed in areas close to the oil field held by the “Autonomous Administration.” SOHR sources also suggests that the attack, in the case that it was carried out by ISIS cells, may have come as a part of ISIS retaliation of the anti-ISIS security campaign in Al-Hawl camp.
September 2022: Another month passes and no investigation into alleged Coalition massacres
Despite SOHR repeated and “unheeded” appeals, International Coalition and SDF have not announced 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 on 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 calls and appeals to all relevant parties to disclose and announce the whole facts and hold accountable those responsible for the massacres and violations over the past five years, during which the Coalition was 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 the 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 US Presidents had applied enough pressure on their Turkish counterparts 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 the repercussions of exploiting these sources, seizing them, or depriving the Syrians of their rights to resources.