SDF forces kill ISIS oil official in Deir al-Zor

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) announced on Sunday that they killed a senior Iraqi Islamic State official in Deir al-Zor responsible for sleeper cell attacks against the SDF.

The SDF said the military operation took place on Jan. 14 against an Iraqi national called Abu al-Ward, “who was in charge of oil and funding ISIS sleeper cells and supervising ISIS attacks in the area.”

Clashes erupted between Islamic State fighters and the Kurdish-led forces during the operation, which resulted in Ward’s death, the SDF said.

“Our units were also able, during the operation, to seize a quantity of ammunition and documents.”

Col. Myles B. Caggins III, the Coalition’s military spokesperson, said the operation disrupts and degrades the so-called Islamic State’s ability to generate revenue to finance its terrorist activity in the Middle Euphrates River Valley in Deir al-Zor.

“ISIS would love to get their terrorists’ hands on the oil in eastern Syria, it’s a historical revenue source for them; with our Syrian commando partners, we will not allow this to happen again,” he told Kurdistan 24.

“Our Syrian commando partners continue to prove their mettle in the fight against ISIS remnants.”

Despite the SDF and the US-led coalition announcing the defeat of the extremist group’s so-called caliphate in March 2019, Islamic State sleeper cell attacks persist in areas now liberated from its brutal rule.

The SDF, internal security forces, and the coalition continue military efforts to rout out those who remain dedicated to the terror group in Syria.

However, after a Turkish military incursion in early October into areas in northern Syria under SDF control, the Kurdish forces “temporarily paused” operations against the Islamic State to enable its fighters to confront Ankara’s cross-border invasion.

Moreover, after US President Donald Trump’s decision in late October to leave between 500 to 600 American troops in Syria to protect oilfields, the SDF continued counter-Islamic State operations, including those targeting the terror group’s smuggling networks.

Despite this, Islamic State sleeper cell activity has continued, including recent incidents.

On Saturday, internal security forces in the town of al-Shannan in the countryside of Deir al-Zor discovered a booby-trooped motorcycle after receiving tips from civilians. The bomb was defused and disposed of.

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