Iraq News

SDF clamps down on ISIS in Syria's Deir Ezzor

By Waleed Abu al-Khair in Cairo

An ISIS element arrested near the Conoco gas field in eastern rural Deir Ezzor is seen here in an undated photo. [Photo via the Deir Ezzor Media Centre Facebook page]

An ISIS element arrested near the Conoco gas field in eastern rural Deir Ezzor is seen here in an undated photo. [Photo via the Deir Ezzor Media Centre Facebook page]

Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), backed by international coalition air power, have been conducting a series or raids against "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) holdouts in eastern rural Deir Ezzor.

During a raid on al-Shuheil's al-Katf neighbourhood, backed by coalition helicopters, the SDF arrested three militants in late October, said SDF officer Farhad Khoja.

All three hail from al-Shuheil, he told Diyaruna, adding that SDF forces seized large quantities of weapons, ammunition and ISIS propaganda materials that were found with them.

Preliminary investigations revealed the trio had been directing a number of sleeper cells in the area that had been directly responsible for carrying out attacks and assassinations targeting both SDF fighters and civilians, he said.

Two other militants were arrested during a separate raid carried out in al-Shuheil, Khoja said.

Security forces also arrested another ISIS element near the Conoco gas field in eastern rural Deir Ezzor, determining he had been smuggling weapons to sleeper cells and co-ordinating terrorist attacks.

They also raided a house in the village of al-Sabha in al-Basira district, arresting four people, one of whom has worked as a teacher with ISIS.

ISIS remnants have been planting mines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in various parts of rural Deir Ezzor and al-Hasakeh provinces, social and media activist Ammar Saleh told Diyaruna.

The SDF's de-mining teams have stepped up their efforts to locate and dismantle these explosives, he said, which have been set with the intention of harming SDF elements and civilians who reject the presence of ISIS.

Tightening anti-ISIS measures

All branches of the SDF have intensified their pursuit of ISIS remnants, taking measures that include blocking the routes they use to move around, said Adnan Azadi of the Asayesh (Kurdish internal security forces).

They have banned the use of motorcycles until further notice in the city of Deir Ezzor and in the eastern part of the province, he told Diyaruna, as they are the extremists' preferred means of transport.

The SDF is continuing to tighten security measures in all areas of Deir Ezzor and al-Hasakeh, he said.

This includes not only tracking ISIS elements and weapons, but also preventing the distribution of ISIS propaganda, he said, which has included items such as plastic swords inscribed with ISIS slogans.

Some of these items were found in a camp housing ISIS families in the city of al-Malikiyah, Azadi said, and were seized to stop them from being circulated among children.

They reveal that ISIS is continuing its attempts to "poison the minds of children" by propagating its ideology, he said.

During the course of investigations, security forces learned that some women in the camp, reportedly the wives of ISIS elements, had bought these swords and had pro-ISIS slogans inscribed on them, he said.

Azadi said that punitive action was taken against these women and the merchant from whom they purchased the plastic swords, who pledged not to bring such toys into the camp in the future.

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