On September 10 this year, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF or QSD), supported by the International Alliance led by the USA , launched an attack on the outskirts of the town of Hajin, southeast of Deir al-Zour, one of the last strongholds of the terrorist organization ISIS east of the Euphrates . Since that date, military operations of the forces of QSD against the terrorist organization ISIS in a “Hajin” town have not stopped to free it. The attack on a Hajin , called the operation Roundup , took months to prepare, it comes after US administration officials of Donald Trump put an end to the uncertainty surrounding the fate of the area controlled by Syria’s democratic forces in the northeast of the country declaring that US forces would remain there indefinitely
Yesterday, the “hospital” of the Hajin city of Deir el-Zour, the eastern suburb, returned after fierce battles with the fighters of of the terrorist organization ISIS . “Our forces recovered at dawn today the control of the building of a Hajin hospital, which was very heavily destroyed after heavy fighting with armed militants,” a military commander in Deir al-Zour military council of QSD told German News Agency. “The fighting continues to control Hajin city, despite all the ferocity shown by fighters ISIS to stay in the city as the last strongholds of the organization in the east of the Euphrates,” the military commander said. “Armed militants rely on bombers and suicide bombers to counter the advance of our forces.” The military commander stressed that “the forces of Qsd pushed, over the past two days, major military reinforcements to a Hajin city under the cover of the international coalition aircraft.” The military commander said that “after the entry of our troops to the city and breaking the defenses of the organization of Daash , a control of the Hajin city has become a matter of time, but the existence of civilians in areas under the control of an organization ISIS restrict advance of our forces f ». He stressed: «After establishment of the of control on the area of the hospital, all the roads leading to the city of Hajin have become under control ».
“Heavy fighting is taking place inside a Hajin town after our forces have advanced and are taking control of some of its neighborhoods,” Redor Khalil, a senior commander of the forces, told AFP. He stressed “Military operations continue at a high rate.” The Syrian Democratic Forces have opened safe corridors for civilians and have managed to liberate more than 1,000 civilians, mostly women and children, from inside a Hajin during the past few days, according to Khalil, who accused the extremist group of using “human shields” , stressing that the openness of passages will continue .
For his part, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said: “The military operations are continuing in the eastern Euphrates area, within the eastern sector of the villages of Deir al-Zour, where there has been continuous fighting at varying levels of violence between the the Syrian Democratic forces on one side and the elements of the organization on the other side , on axes in the town of a Hajin and its outskirts, and other axes of the pocket under the control of the organization, on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River ». He added: “Syria’s democratic forces have been able to move forward in the region, control the sites and points in the outskirts of the town, and access to the hospital located in the western section of the town of the Hajin, which was destroyed by the aircraft of the International Coalition through the targets in the past days and weeks, noting that the progress is slow being carried out by the forces of Qusd in an attempt to comb the mines in the area in which it is advancing and to establish control in order to prevent any counter-attack may make it losing control over the areas in favor of the organization, which seeks to repel the attack and prevent its forces from further tightening it inside the pocket which was . exposed between time and time to the operations of artillery and missile and air bombing by the International Alliance and Syria’s Democratic forces . »
For his part, US Defense Department spokesman Colonel Rob Manning said during his daily press conference that hospitals could not be used for other purposes, adding that ISIS was used to using this tactic repeatedly. He pointed out that the organization ISIS is seeking to use hospitals as military headquarters in the context of regular tactics. In response to a question by the Anatolian correspondent about the extent of the serious risks that led the international coalition forces to bomb the hospital, Manning said that ” elements of ISIS fired from the hospital.” Manning did not answer whether these weapons were light or heavy. A small Hajin city in eastern Syria has become the last stronghold of the organization ISIS and it is besieged on all sides, and fierce fighting is being fought to bring it down, and American forces are “working with a quick resolve to end this war in a short time.”
“The rebels occupy a small area near the Syrian-Iraqi border, and there is no place they can move to,” he said. “Yes, they are fighting a fierce battle, killing hundreds of people who are fighting them, and spreading videos about the beheadings of their enemies, old videos,” he said. ” Hajin battle will last for three months,” he said, “indicating the difficulty of eliminating an extremist group determined not to die.”
At the same time, the Pentagon official said that the “ISIS” lost the most income he was getting from oil, and taxes imposed in the areas he controlled. And that «Da’ash» now depends on the sale of gold, and other funds that were collected after the declaration of control of land in 2014. These funds are used to buy weapons, and to finance the attacks in Iraq and Syria. The official added that the area controlled by «ISIS » in Syria represents less than 1% of the territory that was controlled at the peak of glory, and was equal to the size of Britain. About 15,000 people, including the Da’ash fighters and their families, live in the small pocket of ISIS. And that these fighters, according to the Pentagon estimates, no more than two thousand fighters. And that this is a significant reduction of the forces which amounted to fifty thousand fighters at the top of their terrorist appearance.
Brett McGuck, White House envoy to the war against Daqash said , at a recent security conference in Bahrain: “It’s very difficult because we’re in the final stage , we expect that every fighter carries a suicide bomb around his waist. ” But he added that the trapped Da’ashis “have nowhere to go.” And they are surrounded to the east and north by the fighters of the Syrian Democratic forces, and from the south and west by the Syrian government forces, and the forces fighting with them. Recently, Syrian government forces and their allies have closed roads to a Hajin area.
“The fall of the Hajin will end the group’s control over any important area in Iraq or Syria, but the sleeper cells of both countries will continue to launch attacks amid attempts to regroup,” the Associated Press said . At the same time, ISIS affiliates in Libya, Afghanistan and the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula continue to launch regular attacks.
It should be noted here that last November, the international coalition led by the US against “Da’ash” announced its estimates regarding the number of elements of the terrorist “ISIS” organization in the Syrian Hajin area, where the battle against the terrorist organization entered its third month. “According to our estimates, the number of armed jihadists is between 1, 5oo to 2,000,” said the deputy commander of the Joint Task Force in the coalition, General Christopher Gekka . He added “The battle against” ISIS “in the east of the Euphrates is” difficult ” due to the large number of its militants there, and those remaining terrorists include the most powerful and committed to the ideology of the organization in the entire war, as well as the experiences they gained in previous battles like Mosul and Raqqa and the evidence for this, colonel Sean Ryan , a US military spokesman in Baghdad said , , it is unlikely to surrender easily while the militants surrounded the area by underground tunnels and planted them ith explosive devices and are expected to launch suicide attacks against their attackers rather than surrender . “We believe that it will be a very difficult battle, not a quick one,” Ryan said. “We did not set a timetable for fighting,” he said. “But it is not expected to continue until the end of the year,” he said.
With this battle, Washington hopes that this war to be the latest battle in a four-year war against the terrorist organization “ISIS ” in Syria. But the reality is the opposite, the Washington Post said. “The liberation of this region would put an effective end to the organization of ISIS that has reached a peak between 2014-2015 and has taken over vast areas of Syria and Iraq “However, the battle will not put an end to the threat posed by insurgents who are already regrouping in areas of Iraqi territory, as well as they keep their scattered cells across the vast desert region west of the Euphrates River, which is controlled by the Syrian government .”
Arab Studies Unit
Rawabet Center for Research and Strategic Studies