Rojava: Al-Jazeera Thunderbolt operation sweeps Syria-Iraq border areas

HASAKA, Syria — The Al-Jazeera Thunderbolt operation, led by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), continued on its sixth day, sweeping ISIS sleeper cells in the Syria-Iraq border areas.

The mission of the operation is to root out ISIS militants reorganizing in remote areas of Rojava (northeastern Syria).

Siyamend Ali, head of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) media office, told Zoom News reporter Jihad Nabo that 138 ISIS militants have been arrested over the past six days, adding that the operation “mainly focuses on the areas of al-Hol, Tal Hamis, Tal Brak, and the surrounding villages of Hasaka and Qamishli to be cleared of ISIS sleeper cells.”

The People’s Protection Units (YPG) is a mainly-Kurdish force in Rojava and the primary component and the backbone of the SDF.

According to Ali, Turkish threats towards Rojava have intensified ISIS militant movements in the region, as evidenced by the recent attack on the SDF’s Internal Security Forces in Raqqa that killed six SDF members.

Following Turkish air strikes on Rojava, the SDF reduced its operations in the vacant areas, enabling the sleeper cells to reorganize, according to Ali.

In addition, the border area between Iraq and Syria “is a hub for ISIS sleeper cells to reorganize since it’s a vacant area.”

“It was our goal today to locate sleeper cells that smuggle ISIS families from the al-Hol camp to Sari Kani, Gire Spi, and other Turkish-controlled areas. Our operation continues in pursuit of these goals,” Ali added.

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