Islamic State (ISIS) operations have returned to areas under the control of the Syrian National Army and the Turkish Army in rural northern Aleppo, amid the assassination of a commander and three National Army fighters, as well as the targeting of a Turkish military vehicle. ISIS claimed responsibility for these operations via its media platforms.
On Tuesday evening, ISIS announced the assassination of Col. Muhammad Adnan Bakkar in a statement, saying that, “the caliphate was able to shoot dead a commander…in the town of Kafr Ghan in rural Azaz.”
A Baladi News correspondent in rural Aleppo reported that unknown attackers on a motorcycle fired on Bakkar, a defected commander from al-Qusayr in rural Homs. He worked in the National Army’s Defense Ministry.
The Syrian National Army’s Second Legion meanwhile mourned the deaths of three fighters, who, according to official information, had been killed at the hands of an ISIS cell on Jun. 20, 2020.
The group said in a statement, “The 211th Brigade of the Second Legion of the national Army mourns a number of martyrs after they were targeted by ISIS near the village of al-Numan in rural eastern Aleppo on Saturday night.”
According to the statement, the men killed were Fares Ahmad al-Issa, Bilal Khaled al-Ali and Alaa Muhammad Abed.
ISIS also targeted a Turkish army vehicle east of Azaz on Friday, injuring two Turkish soldiers.
Pursuing ISIS cells
With the rise in ISIS attacks in rural Aleppo, security forces are waging an arrest campaign targeting members of a large ISIS cell, a security source told Baladi News. In recent days, that cell assassinated members of the National Army and police force, and the assassination of Bakkar came as revenge for the arrest campaign targeting ISIS leaders.
The source added that ISIS cells are acting in remote border villages because of the lack of security presence there.
According to the Azaz Media Office, as a result of ISIS’s recent assassination operations, “intelligence forces, police and general security raided a headquarters where ISIS fighters were living, including non-Syrians.”
The Azaz Media Office reported that the campaign targeted homes and buildings used to manufacture explosive devices. Authorities also seized guns, a warehouse for manufacturing silencers, and fake Syrian documents used by foreigners, in addition to cell phones equipped with electronic chips for remote-controlled explosions.
Personnel at the headquarters prepare logistical matters for ISIS so that it can carry out its bombing and assassination operations in the area.
On Jun. 9, 2020, police intelligence and general security forces in Azaz arrested an ISIS cell composed of 13 members, including people with Tunisian and other nationalities.
Sources confirmed to Baladi News that the cell was preparing a campaign against the National Army and Turkish Army in Azaz city and the nearby countryside.
Police intelligence sized 5,000 metal explosive devices, in addition to 50 gun silencers and 120 others that were being prepared.
Assassination of the wali of Raqqa
Perhaps the biggest blow to ISIS in rural Aleppo was the assassination of Fayez al-Akkal, also known as Abu Saad al-Shamali, who was the wali of Raqqa during ISIS’s control over the city. An unknown aircraft targeted his car on Jun. 20,2020, in al-Bab, rural eastern Aleppo.
Rumors circulated that Akkal was killed by ISIS, but it believed that he was moved secretly to the security work and administration for assassination and liquidation operations. Activists published a photo, saying that it was his forged civil record giving his name as Ahmad al-Darwish on a card issued by the Dabiq Local Council. His place of birth was documented as the town of Maskanah near Manbij in rural Aleppo.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.