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Syria Today – US Targeted in Syria; ISIS Leader Killed

Your daily brief of the English-speaking press on Syria.
Syria Today – US Targeted in Syria; ISIS Leader Killed

Reports indicate that a clash ensued in Deir-ez-Zor after the Global Coalition Against ISIS conducted an airdrop near the residence of an Iraqi ISIS commander, resulting in his reported death on Monday. Simultaneously, Al Mayadeen reported that groups associated with Iran targeted US forces with a barrage of rockets.

Exclusive: US al-Omar Oilfield Base Targeted from Syrian Territories

Al Mayadeen reported that the ‘Resistance’ has targeted US forces with a barrage of rockets.

A rocket attack targeted the United States’ al-Omar oil field base in the eastern part of the Deir Ezzor governate, in northeastern Syria, Al Mayadeen’s correspondent reported on Monday morning.

Citing a field source, our correspondent said that the attack came as a direct response to an American strike that targeted a truck passing through the al-Qaem – al-Bukamal border crossing between Iraq and Syria.

In detail, the source said that 30 rockets were launched in the attacks, which resulted in direct hits to the US occupation base located to the east of the Euphrates River, near one of Syria’s largest oilfields.

Importantly, the field source told Al Mayadeen’s correspondent that the attack on Sunday dawn came from within the Syrian territories.

The attack comes in a broader context of action taken by the Islamic Resistance in Iraq to eliminate American military presence from the region, specifically in Iraq and Syria, where the US holds multiple airbases. 

These airbases have reportedly been used to violate the sovereignty of both countries. In the Syrian Arab Republic, the US military is officially considered an occupying force, while the government in Iraq is working on ending a previously agreed mandate with the US.

Jordanian Army Condemns Syria after Border shootout tied to drugs

The Jordanian military has blamed Damascus for increased drug smuggling into the kingdom from southern Syria, after the second major narcotics-related shoot-out on the border in three weeks, The National reported.

Several drug and weapons smugglers who crossed the northern border from Syria have been killed in clashes that began at dawn on Saturday, the army said.

“The responsibility lies with the Syrian state,” Brigadier Mustafa Al Hiyari, the army’s spokesman, told state TV late on Sunday. “The responsibility lies with this [Syrian] government [for] any presence of militias, regardless of their ties.”

“Behind this organized action is outside agendas,” he added, without elaborating.

Jordan had toned down its criticism of Syria, as well as Iran, over the flow of illegal drugs after a regional rapprochement last year with President Bashar Al Assad. Tehran supports Hezbollah and other militias present on Syria’s southern border with Jordan.

The Syrian President had been largely ostracised since the authorities used deadly force to suppress a pro-democracy protest movement that broke out in 2011.

It was the last of the wave of Arab uprisings at the beginning of that decade. By the end of the year, Syria was in civil war.

The authorities in Amman had repeatedly blamed the Syrian military and allied militias supported by Iran for the flow of drugs, particularly the amphetamine-like Captagon, which has also been smuggled into Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries.

ISIS commander killed in helicopter raid

An Iraqi ISIS commander was reportedly killed in a clash after forces belonging to the Global Coalition Against ISIS carried out an airdrop near his house early Monday in Deir-ez-Zor, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported on Thursday.

So far, neither the Coalition nor the US CENTCOM has confirmed the operation. The airdrop took place in the town of Al-Jarthi in the eastern countryside of Deir Ezzor. 

The SOHR report suggested the Iraqi ISIS commander showed resistance when Coalition Forces attempted to arrest him. A firefight ensued, and the commander was killed.

The family of the ISIS commander was reportedly living in al-Hol camp, where on Dec. 28, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)-linked security forces killed senior ISIS official Abu Obeida al-Iraqi.

Although ISIS was territorially defeated in 2019, ISIS cells continue to pose a security threat and instability in both Iraq and Syria.

On Sunday, two members of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) alliance were killed in an ISIS attack.

Last Thursday, two ISIS militants were killed after they attempted to attack the SDF near Syria’s al-Shaddadi.

Israel shifts to deadlier strikes on Iran-linked targets in Syria

Israel is carrying out an unprecedented wave of deadly strikes in Syria targeting cargo trucks, infrastructure and people involved in Iran’s weapons lifeline to its proxies in the region, six sources with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

The sources, including a Syrian military intelligence officer and a commander in the regional alliance backing Damascus, said Israel had shifted strategies following the Oct. 7 rampage by Hamas fighters into Israeli territory and the ensuing Israeli bombing campaigns in Gaza and Lebanon.

Although Israel has struck Iran-linked targets in Syria for years, including areas where Lebanese armed group Hezbollah has been active, it is now unleashing deadlier, more frequent air raids against Iranian arms transfers and air defence systems in Syria, the sources said.

The commander in the regional alliance and two additional sources familiar with Hezbollah’s thinking said Israel had abandoned the unspoken “rules of the game” that previously characterised its strikes in Syria, and seemed “no longer cautious” about inflicting heavy casualties on Hezbollah there.

“They used to fire warning shots – they’d hit near the truck, our guys would get out of the truck, and then they’d hit the truck,” the commander said, describing Israeli raids on arms transfers handled by Hezbollah before Oct. 7.

“Now that’s over. Israel is now unleashing deadlier, more frequent air raids against Iranian arms transfers and air defence systems in Syria. They bomb everyone directly. They bomb to kill.”

Turkish military ‘neutralizes’ 11 PKK members in Syria’s north

The Defense Ministry has announced on consecutive days that a total of 11 PKK members were neutralized in preemptive strikes targeting potential attacks within Türkiye’s operational zones in northern Syria.

The term “neutralize” is frequently used by the Turkish military and officials to denote that the terrorists in question have either surrendered, been killed or captured during operations.

The first statement released on Jan. 7 reported the neutralization of five PKK members who were allegedly preparing an attack within the zones of Euphrates Shield and Peace Spring operations.

The Turkish military launched a trio of operations – Euphrates Shield (2016), Olive Branch (2018) and Peace Spring (2019) – across the country’s border in northern Syria to “prevent the formation of a terror corridor” and “enable the peaceful settlement of residents.”

The following day, on Jan. 8, the ministry announced the neutralization of six additional PKK members who were reportedly planning an attack in the Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch operations area.

“Our heroic Turkish Armed Forces continue their operations against PKK/YPG terrorists in northern Syria,” read the ministry’s social media post.

The recent airstrikes followed attacks in northern Iraq that resulted in the loss of 12 Turkish soldiers at the hands of the PKK. The assailants, armed with long-barreled weapons, rocket launchers and grenades, targeted Turkish military bases in the Zap, Metina and Hakurk regions on Dec. 22 and 23, 2023.


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