Counter-ISIS coalition announces killing, capture of ‘multiple’ militants in eastern Syria raids

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The international counter-Islamic State (ISIS) coalition announced Saturday "multiple" ISIS militants were killed and wounded in a "large-scale" raid in eastern Syria. Other militants were taken alive during the Friday operation.

The statement from US CENTCOM did not provide a figure for militant fatalities and injuries. However, “more than a dozen fighters” were captured during the raids on “multiple compounds” in Deir ez-Zor province.

After clearing the terrorists' compounds, a significant amount of small arms, homemade explosives and ammunition were removed, the statement added.

The fresh raid was "part of the enduring partnership in the fight against ISIS" in north and northeastern Syria, where "terrorist sleeper cells remain a persistent threat."

"Local security forces, with Coalition assistance, are continuing to conduct counter-terrorism operations," the US-led coalition statement read, in reference to the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Friday's operation was conducted following days of joint planning and preparation with the SDF.

Taking advantage of the US troop drawdown in Syria in the wake of Turkey's incursion, ISIS has been able to rebuild and expand its ability to conduct attacks in the area.

Before the launch of Turkey's ground invasion, SDF and Kurdish administrative leaders warned they would have to center their efforts and resources on pushing back the Turkish offensive – putting counter-ISIS operations and the detention of ISIS suspects and their kin on the backburner.

"SOJTF-OIR remains committed to our relentless pursuit of Daesh," said U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Eric T. Hill, Special Operations Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve commander. "As long as Daesh presents a threat, we must stay vigilant to prevent it, for the sake of the region and our homelands."

The Pentagon's Lead Inspector General indicated in his latest report to Congress that the US withdrawal was detrimental to the Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) mission against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

"Prior to the Turkish incursion and subsequent draw-down of US forces, ISIS...had been continuing to reconstitute networks and carry out attacks...After the Turkish incursion, the DIA reported ... that with SDF and U.S. operations against ISIS in Syria diminished, ISIS was likely to exploit the reduction in counter-terrorism pressure to reconstitute its operations in Syria and expand its ability to conduct transnational attacks," Inspector General Fine stated in the report’s opening message.

Related: New Pentagon report confirms US troop withdrawal helped ISIS rebuild in northeast Syria
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