ISIS resurgence in 2023 | Over 120 attacks in SDF-controlled areas leave nearly 80 fatalities
ISIS continues its operations in areas under the control of the Autonomous Administration, which are mainly manifested in armed attacks and assassinations through gunfire, attacks with sharp tools and planting IEDs and landmines. Those operations are met with routine security campaigns by Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), backed by the International Coalition, targeting ISIS members, cells and affiliates. However, those campaigns have failed so far to curb the escalating activity by the organisation and its affiliated cells in SDF-held areas.
SOHR has documented 121 operations carried out by ISIS, including armed attacks and explosions, in areas under the control of the Autonomous Administration since early 2023. According to SOHR statistics, these operations left 78 persons dead:
- 17 civilians.
- 56 members of SDF, the Internal Security Forces (Asayish) and other military formations operating in areas under the control of the Autonomous Administration.
- One unidentified man.
- Four ISIS member.
These operations are distributed regionally as follows:
- Al-Raqqah: 15 attacks left 13 combatants and two civilians dead.
- Deir Ezzor: 91 attacks left 15 civilians, an unidentified man, 32 combatants and two ISIS members, including an Iraqi commander, dead.
- Aleppo: Three attacks left seven combatants, including commanders, dead.
- Al-Hasakah: 12 attacks left four combatants and two ISIS members dead and others injured.
ISIS operations in SDF-controlled areas, which clearly indicates that the “Islamic State” is still alive and kicking, have not confined to attacks, as SOHR has reported on many occasions that ISIS members conducted frequent tours in this region, distributed fliers and publicly threatened to kill specific individuals.
The most prominent incidents and practices can be summarised as follows:
August 6: ISIS cells hanged leaflets in Al-Tayana Town within SDF-held areas in eastern Deir Ezzor countryside, threatening to execute women in the town for not “committing to the Islamic dress code”, where some leaflets were hanged on houses in the town.
July 17: ISIS cells published leaflets that threatens to kill 39 civilians for “deviating from the truth”, where the leaflets were hanged on walls of mosques of Al-Hassin Village in northern Deir Ezzor countryside within SDF-held areas.
April 7: ISIS cells hanged leaflets in front of Abo Bakr Al-Siddek Mosque in Al-Basira city within SDF-held areas in eastern Deir Ezzor countryside. The leaflets included threats to several workers of the local councils of the Autonomous Administration, and accused the workers of following “Sufism.”
April 9: Gunmen of ISIS cells blocked several oil trucks and oil contractors near Al-Sijan oil field in north-eastern Deir Ezzor, ordering them to give them money by force under the pretext of “collecting zakat,” “royal taxes” as ISIS described, which estimated at 3,000 to 10,000 USD.
The Syrian Observatory 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.