Islamic State operations continue to escalate in Syria

Targeting a military bus for regime forces by the Islamic State organization in the eastern countryside of Homs - January 9, 2024 (Al-Naba)

Targeting a military bus for regime forces by the Islamic State organization in the eastern countryside of Homs - January 9, 2024 (Al-Naba)

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The operations of the Islamic State (IS) group continue to escalate in various areas where its forces are present around the world, most notably in Syria and Iraq, after a decrease in the pace of these operations during 2023.

The group’s operations during the current week reached six operations in Syria, leaving 40 dead and wounded, according to what was announced by its official newspaper, “Al-Naba” (through a closed newsroom) on January 19.

These operations in Syria were distributed in areas under the control of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and others controlled by the Syrian regime, including three in Deir Ezzor province, one in al-Hasakah, and one each in Homs and Raqqa provinces.

On page five of the newspaper, the Islamic State said that a group affiliated with it managed to plant an explosive device south of the city of al-Sukhnah in eastern Homs province, targeting a military bus that was carrying dozens of officers and military personnel of the Syrian regime forces.

According to the organization’s estimates, the attack resulted in the killing and wounding of 30 military personnel, including two officers, in addition to the destruction of the bus.

In addition to the attack east of Homs, the organization said that its elements set up three ambushes for regime forces during the past week, resulting in the killing of an officer and six elements, burning two vehicles, and capturing a third in the desert of Homs.

In the latest news from the city of al-Sukhnah about the Islamic State’s operations, an attack was carried out on January 11, in which the organization released a video recording showing its targeting of a group of regime forces, which was reshared by the local “Al-Sukhnah Al-Hadath” page on Facebook.

Before this, on January 9, local Sham FM radio station reported that a number of military personnel were killed when a bus carrying them was attacked east of the Third Station (T3) in the eastern Homs countryside.

The Russian news agency “Sputnik” said on the same day that 16 soldiers and officers of the Syrian regime forces were killed, and others were injured in two simultaneous attacks by the “Islamic State” organization in the eastern countryside of Homs province, in central Syria.

At the time, it added that 14 soldiers from the regime forces were killed, and more than 19 others were wounded with varying injuries as a preliminary toll, in an attack carried out by the organization on a sleeper bus that was transporting them in the area of the “Third Station” (T3) in the desert of Palmyra in the eastern countryside of Homs.

In the areas controlled by the SDF, the Islamic State carried out an attack that resulted in the killing of a leader in the forces and the injury of another, according to Al-Naba newspaper. It pointed out that the organization carried out a similar attack in Deir Ezzor in eastern Syria, which resulted in the death of an SDF member and the injury of others.

SDF does not announce the scattered operations of the organization in its areas of control, but the Internal Security Forces (Asayish) affiliated with it announced on Thursday, January 18, an operation they carried out in the city of Manbij, east of Aleppo, which led to the arrest of one of the organization’s elements, the first such operation in 2024.

The Syrian regime has not officially commented on the targeting incidents that occurred in its areas of control up to the moment of writing this news, nor has the SDF announced targeting in its areas of control.

The Islamic State accompanied its announcements of these attacks with photos it said were from the attack carried out in eastern Homs province, targeting a bus carrying military personnel.

A bus targeted by the Islamic State organization in eastern Homs, resulting in the killing and wounding of elements and officers of the Syrian regime forces (Al-Naba newspaper)

A bus targeted by the Islamic State organization in eastern Homs, resulting in the killing and wounding of elements and officers of the Syrian regime forces (Al-Naba newspaper)

The pace of the organization’s operations in the areas controlled by the Syrian regime in central Syria did not increase for more than a year, as the organization relied on a strategy of targeting with explosive devices and swift ambushes targeting military convoys of the regime forces in the region during the past year.

Despite repeated security campaigns launched by the regime to combat the Islamic State organization in Syria, it did not make any difference on the ground, even with the Russian air cover provided by Moscow for these operations and the ground support of the Iranian militias in Syria.

While the SDF said it carried out 73 security operations during 2023, targeting the Islamic State’s cells in its areas of control east of the Euphrates River in northeastern Syria, including wide-ranging operations that lasted for days targeting large geographical areas, and other individual operations targeting elements or leaders of the organization.

Escalating targets

In the first week of the current year, the Islamic State organization announced 32 operations, distributed in the northern part of Syria and others in the desert area of the eastern Homs countryside.

During the second week, the organization said that its elements carried out 34 operations in Syria, resulting in the killing and wounding of 70 people.

Looking at the same statistics for the current year, the organization carried out two operations in Syria in the last week of 2023, which left three dead and wounded, all in Deir Ezzor province, where the SDF controls eastern Syria.

In the week prior, on December 22, 2023, the organization announced the execution of three operations in Syria, including two in Deir Ezzor and another in al-Hasakah, which left six dead and wounded.

On December 15, 2023, the organization stated that it carried out three operations in Syria, including two in Ezzor targeting SDF elements and one targeting elements of regime forces in Homs, resulting in the killing and wounding of three people.

Throughout 2023, most of the Islamic State’s statistics were of this nature, with just a few targets and sometimes no injuries as a result.

 

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