US and Syrian allies capture five ISIS operatives in six raids this week

Iraq Syria Camp
Women walk at al-Hol camp, home to some 60,000 people, many of them families and supporters of Islamic State fighters, in Hasakeh province, Syria, Saturday, May 1, 2021. Security inside al-Hol camp has improved since a security operation was carried out last month but concern over a coronavirus outbreak in the crowded facility has grown. (AP Photo/Baderkhan Ahmad)

US and Syrian allies capture five ISIS operatives in six raids this week

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U.S. forces and Syrian allies apprehended five ISIS operatives during six operations over the past week or so, according to Central Command.

The two allied forces resumed operations on Dec. 8, and since then, they “have conducted six partnered operations, resulting in the detention of five ISIS operatives involved in planning attacks on detention facilities holding ISIS fighters and on the Al Hol camp,” Col. Joe Buccino, a spokesman for CENTCOM, said in a statement referring to the Syrian refugee camp.

CENTCOM did not immediately say whether there were any civilian casualties in the operations.

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CENTCOM leader Gen. Michael Kurilla made his third visit to the camp late last month. He warned that it could become a breeding ground for a new generation of Islamic extremists. Kurilla, who took command on April 1, argued after his visit that the best way to prevent the radicalization of tens of thousands of people in the camp is their “successful repatriation, rehabilitation, and reintegration of the camp residents back into their country of origin.”

The idea of repatriating those in the camp is not new, but in the past, countries have not eagerly accepted these people.

“There are thousands of women and children here who would embrace the chance to just go home, escape this squalor and misery, and live a normal life. But the longer we leave them here in these conditions, the greater the chance they will instead raise the next generation of extremists,” Kurilla said, referencing his interactions with people living in the camp.

The Syrian Democratic Forces thwarted a suicide bombing attempt at the camp in late September, though four ISIS fighters were killed in the incident. Weeks earlier, the SDF arrested “dozens of ISIS operatives” while conducting security operations at the refugee camp, and a CENTCOM spokesperson said at the time that the arrests led to the “dissolution of a major ISIS facilitation network both within the camp and throughout Syria.”

Two Egyptian girls, aged 12 and 15, were found beheaded in the camp in mid-November, according to the Save the Children charity that works there. The total number of people who have been killed or found dead in the refugee camp is over 30, the group said, adding that many of the victims were women. Additionally, last year was the most violent on record, in which an average of more than two people were killed per week.

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Buccino noted, “The U.S. remains committed to countering the global threat from ISIS in partnership with local forces. ISIS continues to pursue an aggressive operational agenda, including external attacks that threaten U.S. allies and partners in the region and beyond. American forces remain in Syria partnered with local forces to ensure the enduring defeat of ISIS.”

U.S. forces also killed two ISIS officials in a helicopter raid last weekend in eastern Syria. CENTCOM identified one of the two ISIS operatives who were killed in the raid, Anas, a person whom it describes as “an ISIS Syria Province official who was involved in the group’s deadly plotting and facilitation operations in eastern Syria.”

© 2022 Washington Examiner

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