The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) continue to pursue "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) remnants in northern and eastern Syria, arresting and killing extremist elements and dismantling active terror cells during military operations.
SDF ground forces and Anti-Terror Units stage these operations with air, technological and intelligence support from the international coalition, SDF officer Farhad Khoja told Al-Mashareq.
A July 19 operation targeted an ISIS cell in a village in al-Hasakeh province's al-Shaddadi district, Khoja said.
The cell members refused to surrender, he said, and two of them were killed during a shootout between the two sides that lasted more than an hour.
Security forces detained one cell member, and confiscated machine guns, pistols, rifles, ammunition and phones belonging to the group, he added.
On July 21, an SDF operation in the town of Jdeidet Akidat targeted three individuals who were arrested on various charges, including communicating with the Syrian regime and paying what was described as oil tax to ISIS, Khoja said.
The so-called tax had been levied under the guise of "zakat", he said.
The operation -- carried out with air and ground troop support provided by the international coalition -- was rapid and no shots were fired, he added.
Syrian state media and pro-regime Iranian outlets attempted to distort the events, falsely describing the detainees as ordinary civilians who were not involved in any terrorist activities, Khoja said.
An ongoing operation
Information obtained from civilian tipsters in the Aleppo province city of Manbij resulted in the arrest of two ISIS elements in that city, media activist Ammar Saleh told Al-Mashareq.
Majid al-Hilal and Hussein al-Sharif, both of whom joined ISIS in 2016, worked in the group's medical and zakat offices. They managed to stay unidentified by using forged documents until a Syrian civilian recognised and reported them.
Monitoring ISIS elements and cells in eastern and northern Syria is "an ongoing operation that will not stop until every last element of the group is eliminated", said Adnan Azadi, an official with the Asayesh (Kurdish internal security forces).
Keeping track of the situation and gathering information are a complicated process, as ISIS elements use various ways and places to hide, he told Al-Mashareq.
Monitoring operations include traditional surveillance, surveillance with cameras and air surveillance done by the international coalition, as these forces have a key role in planning most SDF operations on the ground, he said.
To evade capture, ISIS elements keep a low profile, he said, receiving support from other members of the group or civilians who provide them with hideouts or weapons, ammunition and food.
The extremists force civilians to pay them money they describe as zakat and intimidate them and even threaten to kill them if they refuse to pay, he said.
Civilians pay them out of fear for their lives and the lives of their family members, he added, though the majority of the civilian population refuses to pay, and some report the whereabouts of the ISIS elements to the SDF.