Over the weekend, the U.S. carried out a successful helicopter mission in northern Syria, during which they detained an operational and facilitation officer for ISIS in Syria.
The United States military took two suspected leaders of the Islamic State organization in separate helicopter strikes in northern Syria during the last week of September. U.S. forces captured and arrested Abu Halil al-Fad’ani on September 23 and Mamduh Ibrahim al-haji Shaykh five days later. Without other coalition units in the area, both missions were carried out independently.
Central Syria, which is ostensibly under the jurisdiction of the administration of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, is becoming increasingly a stronghold for the terrorist group. Strong ISIS soldiers in central Syria could quickly cross the Euphrates and begin assisting the operations of ISIS cells in northeastern Syria if the United States withdrew from Syria.
ISIS in the central portion of Syria can undertake campaigns with up to 100 militants at a time. ISIS will be able to resurge in northeastern Syria quickly should the United States withdraw from the country because it can still force support from the populace despite regular US-led or US-supported raids against its members.
Since ISIS lost its final enclave of territory in 2019, the struggle against them has remained mostly out of sight and out of mind. The SDF is mainly Kurdish and also includes Turkmen and Arab militias; the United States still has about 900 troops stationed there. There have been 308 missions flown by U.S. forces this year against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. In comparison, in 2022, the United States military carried out 313 operations against ISIS.
Fighting broke out on August 27 between the SDF and Arab tribesmen when the SDF detained the leader of an Arab militia, adding another layer of complexity to the anti-ISIS effort. Sporadic clashes between armed factions trying to cross to the eastern bank of the Euphrates River have occurred since the combat in Syria’s Deir ez-Zor province erupted on August 27 and ended on September 5.
This year, Russian military planes have repeatedly harassed U.S. aircraft and ground personnel in Syria, often with reckless and unprofessional operations.
The Pentagon has asked the Russian Air Force to stop their dangerous stunt, but they are still committed to permanently defeating ISIS.