IS*IS in November 2022 | Nearly 23 civilians and combatants ki*lled in 25 attacks in areas held by regime forces and SDF, while 30 people ki*lled in clashes between IS*IS and local factions in Daraa
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 100th month after the declaration of “Al-Baghdadi’s Caliphate”, ISIS carried out over 18 operations, including armed attacks and explosions, in areas controlled by SDF, killing 11 persons: Five civilians, five combatants, and an ISIS leader.
SOHR has documented 181 operations carried out by ISIS, including armed attacks and explosions, in areas under the control of the Autonomous Administration since early 2022.
According to SOHR statistics, these operations left 135 persons dead: 52 civilians, including two women and a child, and 82 members of SDF, the Internal Security Forces, and other military formations operating in areas under the control of the Autonomous Administration.
It is worth noting that these attacks have not included the operation of Ghuwayran prison, which left heavy losses.
On November 10, An armed group, believed to be ISIS cells, dressed as ISIS, intercepted a truck loaded with sheep in Al-Mansoura desert in Al-Tabqah countryside, west of Al-Raqqah, stealing 12 sheep from them under the name “sheep zakat.”
While, on November 26, ISIS cells raised flags and posted leaflets on electricity poles, that call those who belong to SDF to repent, in Suwaydan, eastern and western Al-Jarzy and Abo Hardob villages in the eastern countryside within SDF-held areas, coinciding with security mobilization in the region.
While in Daraa province, SOHR activists documented the death of 30 people in the 100th month after the declaration of “Al-Baghdadi’s Caliphate,” because of military operation by local factions and the 8th Brigade against ISIS cells in Daraa city. A breakdown of fatalities is as follows:
- Six civilians, including two children, a media activist and an elderly man.
- 17 ISIS members.
- Six members of local factions, including a commander.
- A member of the 8th Brigade.
In the Syrian desert, however, ISIS continued its operations in areas under the control of the Syrian regime and its allies, 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 13 regime soldiers and proxy militiamen, including two Iranian-backed Syrian and non-Syrian militiamen, in seven attacks in the Syrian desert in the past month.
While ISIS lost three members in Russian airstrikes on ISIS hideouts and clashes with regime forces in Syrian desert.
According to SOHR statistics, the number of fatalities in military operations in the Syrian desert since early 2022 has increased to 376; and they are as follows:
- 155 ISIS members were killed in Russian airstrikes on ISIS hideouts in the deserts of Homs, Al-Suwaidaa, Hama, Al-Raqqah, Deir Ezzor and Aleppo.
- 221 members of regime forces and their proxy militias, including 19 Iranian-backed Syrian and non-Syrian militiamen, were killed in 87 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.
- Four civilians were killed in attacks by ISIS in the Syrian desert.
On November 5, ISIS cells carried out an infiltration operation, arresting two members of the 4th Division from a security checkpoint on the highway near Al-Dweir village, east of Deir Ezzor. The 4th Division members were taken to an unknown destination by ISIS members.
Details of ISIS operations and attacks are as follows:
- November 1: A regime soldier was killed by an explosion of an old landmine planted earlier by ISIS near Al-Zamaleh field in the southern countryside of Al-Raqqah.
- November 12: Two regime soldiers were killed in the explosion of a landmine planted earlier by ISIS on Homs-Palmyra road on Friday. The bodies were taken to the military hospital of Abdelkader Shaqfa in Homs.
- November 14: Two regime soldiers were killed by the explosion of an old landmine planted by ISIS members near Jahar junction on Tadmur-Homs highway.
- November 17: Two regime soldiers were killed in clashes with ISIS in Al-Sabkhah area in the desert in eastern Al-Raqqah countryside.
- November 17: Two members of an Iranian-backed militia were killed in an attack by gunmen, believed to be affiliated with ISIS cells, on a military vehicle carrying them in the vicinity of Al-Tabani town in the western countryside of Deir Ezzor.
- November 18: Three members of the “18th Division” of the regime forces were killed, following an attack by unidentified gunmen, believed to be affiliated with ISIS cells, on a military patrol of the regime forces near Al-Sokhnah area in the eastern countryside of Homs.
- November 27: A regime soldier was killed in an armed clash between the regime forces and ISIS cells while combing areas in Palmyra desert, east of Homs.
Islamic State’s abductees: ignored and unaccounted
Although nearly 44 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 countries.