ISIS escalates attacks after 5 years of defeat in Syria

By Ahmad Othman

QAMISHLI, Syria (North Press) – The announcement of the defeat of the Islamic State (ISIS) did not halt its attacks in Syria, as its strategies were changed by targeting the Syrian government forces and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). These strategies have varied with the leaders of ISIS, until the appointment of the fifth leader in August 2023, following the killing of his predecessor.

On Mar. 23, 2019, the SDF and the U.S.-led Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS declared the elimination of ISIS in the last enclave in the town of Baghuz, eastern Deir ez-Zor Governorate, eastern Syria.

Over the past five years, ISIS has carried out attacks, particularly against the SDF, in an effort to prove it is an organized entity. It has executed several operations during these years, including an attack on al-Sinaa Prison in Hasakah Governorate, northeastern Syria, to free its detainees. However, security and military forces of the SDF and the Internal Security Forces of North and East Syria (Asayish) managed to regain control of the situation after days of fighting.

The ISIS attack on the prison of its detainees destroyed 120 houses, with 62 completely destroyed and 58 partially destroyed in the neighborhoods of Guweiran and al-Zuhour in the city of Hasakah.

On the fifth anniversary of the defeat of ISIS in Syria, the SDF called on the international community and the coalition countries in a statement on Saturday to address the issue of ISIS detainees, urging either the establishment of an international court to hold them accountable or the repatriation of the ISIS militants and their family members by their countries.

The SDF stated that ISIS still poses a great threat to the northern and eastern regions of Syria through the rebuilding of its sleeper cells and the geographical control of certain areas.

Furthermore, ISIS has attempted to target Hawl Camp in Hasakah which houses the families of ISIS several times. In response, the SDF conducted three security campaigns in the camp after obtaining intelligence indicating ISIS plans to target the camp.

In March 2022, the SDF and Asayish announced the first phase of the campaign against ISIS cells in the Hawl Camp, while the third phase was launched in late January of 2023, based on information indicating the coordination of ISIS cells to carry out operations in the camp.

The SDF stated in a previous statement that the third phase of the campaign was launched based on the confessions of many terrorist cell members who were arrested recently.

Escalated attacks


Since the beginning of 2024, ISIS attacks in Syria have increased. According to the recorded data by Insight Organization, the total number of ISIS attacks exceeded 129, of which 94 were claimed by ISIS.

ISIS carried out 72 attacks against the SDF, 41 against the government forces, seven against the Iranian-backed militias, and nine attacks against civilians. The majority of  these attacks were executed in Deir ez-Zor and Homs desert in central Syria.

ISIS militants killed and injured a total of 400 individuals, either through direct targeting or by planting IEDs and mines. Among them, 192 people were killed, including 119 government forces, 35 SDF fighters, 11 Iranian-backed militants, and five militants of the government-linked National Defense Forces (NDF).

Furthermore, 208 individuals were injured, including 46 SDF fighters, 146 soldiers of the government forces, and six Iranian-backed militants.

The total number of security operations against ISIS exceeded 12, with the SDF carrying out 11 of them, including four in cooperation with the Global Coalition. In these operations, 67 individuals were arrested, and five others, all accused of linking to ISIS, were killed.