By Stefan J. Bos, Special Correspondent Worthy News
(Worthy News) – U.S.-led coalition forces have reportedly hit back against an Islamic State cell in Syria. They captured a midlevel leader linked to increasing attacks by the terror group in the Deir el-Zour countryside, the Voice of America (VOA) network said Thursday.
The raid was at least the second in the Deir el-Zour area in the past week, officials said. No causality figures were immediately available. Strikes against Islamic State were supported by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), VOA reported. It came as SDF commanders raised concerns about a sizable increase in Islamic State violence over the past month. VOA quoted an unidentified SDF source as saying that many of the attacks by terror group fighters have been increasingly lethal.
The Islamic State has taken advantage of lockdowns and withdrawal of U.S.-led coalition troops amid an ongoing coronavirus pandemic to increase attacks, several sources said. The Sunni Islamist group was broadly defeated in 2017. Sill, its remnants are becoming more active in Syria and Iraq amid the coronavirus pandemic.
U.S. officials say there are indications that Islamic State has been able to surge more successfully in areas beyond the coalition’s reach. That includes Syria’s Badiya Desert, which was largely abandoned by forces loyal to the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Islamic State also killed 32 Syrian soldiers and damaged two oil fields recently, reports said.
And in neighboring Iraq in recent days, the terror group reportedly killed 10 Iraqi paramilitaries in an ambush in a province close to Iraq’s capital Baghdad. It was its bloodiest attack in recent months. In the last week of April, a suicide bomber from the terror group also killed three security guards outside a government building in the Iraqi city of Kirkuk, reports said.
U.S. intelligence reports estimate as many as at least 14,000 Islamic fighters are still in Syria and Iraq. However, coalition officials claim that Islamic State efforts to reassert itself are not going unanswered. “The recent flurry of ISIS activity has been met by a blizzard,” coalition spokesman Colonel Myles Caggins told media. He also referred to a series of operations carried out by Iraqi security forces in recent weeks, sometimes with the help of coalition airpower.
Millions of people were displaced by the conflicts in Syria and Iraq, including many Christians who have reportedly struggled to receive aid.
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