Kurdish forces capture dozens of suspected IS members in Syria

BEIRUT (AP) — U.S.-backed Kurdish-led militants in northeastern Syria launched an operation Wednesday against suspected Islamic State militants in the region in retaliation for the extremist group’s presence there last month, a statement said. launched an attack.

The Syrian Democratic Forces said they raided “dozens of potential sites and hideouts” in the city of Raqqa, formerly controlled by the Islamic State group, and surrounding areas, arresting dozens of suspected Islamic State members. The US-led coalition provided air cover and drone surveillance during the operation, the statement added.

The operation was in response to an IS attack on Raqqa in late December that killed six members of the Kurdish-led force. The SDF also announced the creation of a “joint operations room” backed by an international coalition aimed at fighting the Islamic State group.

Syrian Kurdish-led forces regularly conduct joint anti-ISIS patrols with the U.S.-led coalition. The patrols were temporarily halted late last year after Turkey launched airstrikes against Kurdish groups in Syria in retaliation for a deadly bombing in Istanbul in November. Ankara blamed the attack on Kurdish groups, but the groups have denied the allegation.

The SDF said that, based on its intelligence, IS “is attempting to reorganize terrorist cells and appoint new leaders” and “is issuing instructions to divert terrorist attacks on prisons where IS members are held from individuals to groups”.

More than 42,400 foreign fighters and some 23,200 Syrians accused of IS ties — along with their families — are being held in camps and prisons in northeastern Syria, according to a Human Rights Watch report last month. The report details dire conditions in detention facilities and calls on their countries to repatriate detained foreigners – most of whom are women and children.

Western countries have deported a growing number of citizens from northeastern Syria, including most recently France, which on Tuesday deported a group of 32 minors and 15 women.

Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. all rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.