Report: Counter-ISIS raids and attacks in Hol Camp increase as amnesty for ISIS-linked women announced

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Body of an Iraqi refugee, shot dead by ISIS sleeper cells active within Hol Camp

Key Points

– Rate of anti-ISIS raids increases 118% (11, 24) in response to demand by local communities

– 4 raids took place in Hol Camp, plus 6 attacks using firearms and knives which resulted in 2 confirmed deaths and 7 serious injuries

– Total attacks decreased by 19% (64, 51), but sleeper-cell attacks in Deir-ez-Zor remained stable (44, 43)

–  Assassination attempts again increased 36% (14, 19), with an estimated 15 fatalities and 30 injuries.

– Unlike August, September saw no attacks attributed to GoS or Iranian militias, with 37 attacks claimed by ISIS, and 15 unclaimed

In depth

Following August protests in Deir-ez-Zo, we saw anti-ISIS raids increase across the board 118%, more than doubling in the month of September, while raids in Deir-ez-Zor increased by 275% (4,15). This is likely a response to one of the demands made by the protesters calling for more security in the region. These raids resulted in 28 arrests in Deir-ez-Zor, as well as 3 deaths and 38 arrests.  This is an overall 12% increase compared to August (34, 38), and a 155% increase for Deir-ez-Zor (11, 28).

Despite the increase in raids and arrests, attacks in Deir-ez-Zor continue at a steady pace with 43 attacks in August and 44 in September. But attacks in all other regions decreased, with only 1 IED attack in Raqqa injuring 3 individuals, and 7 attacks in Heseke: 3 claimed by ISIS and 4 remaining unclaimed. All the attacks occurring in Heseke were IEDs, or attacks with firearms, including 3 attempted assassinations targeting internal security forces and a member of the Deir-ez-Zor Military Council. An IED also targeted the area close to Syriac and Armenian churches in Heseke, shortly after news of the conflict between Armenia and Azerbajian broke, though it is not certain this attack was related.

In Raqqa and Heseke, there were 5 confirmed injuries, and 7 fatalities, and 25 injuries in Deir-ez-Zor and 8 fatalities. This is a 53% (32, 15) decrease in fatalities compared to the previous month.Attacks in Deir-ez-Zor targeted Mala Jin (Women’s House), checkpoints, plus homes of local commune leaders, alongside 16 assassination attempts. The majority of attacks used IEDs and small arms, as well as motorcycles laden with explosives.

August saw several attacks in Deir-ez-Zor attributed to Iranian militias, militias with ties to the Assad regime, and factions of the Syrian National Army, likely trying to exploit the instability caused by the protests, but this month all attacks not claimed by ISIS remain unattributed.

Hol Camp also saw 6 attacks carried out by female ISIS affiliates. These 6 attacks resulted in 7 injuries and 2 deaths, one by hanging and another shot head. It is clear the women of al-Hol are able to accumulate supplies as several of these attacks involved firearms or knives. There were also at least 4 attempted escapes, involving 10 women and several children, thwarted in Hol Camp, with camp officials stating they had blocked over 700 escape attempts during the past year.

Statement from Rojava Information Center researcher, Robin Fleming:

“Recent protests in Deir-ez-Zor not only demanded more security, and more efforts to be made by the SDF and the Deir-ez-Zor military council to improve stability, but also the release of primarily ISIS-linked women and children being held in Hol Camp. The Syrian Democratic Council has responded to both of these demands. Anti-ISIS raids have increased and, as was announced in early October, the SDC plans to release and grant amnesty to all Syrian nationals being held in Hol Camp save for those accused of serious crimes or connections to ISIS.

It remains unclear when this process will begin. The announcement is expected to improve relations between Arab tribes and the Arab regions of NES on the one hand and AANES on the other, which have been especially tense in recent months. As the Syrian women of Hol Camp are released, and returned to their tribes and their communities, we will see what effect this has on the security of the region. The move result in increased short-term danger from ISIS, even as it promotes a stronger relationship between Arab communities and the AANES – with security and political cooperation in this field crucial for ensuring an enduring defeat of ISIS and peace and stability in Deir-ez-Zor.

Rojava Information Center will be following the situation in Hol Camp and Deir-ez-Zor closely in the months ahead.”

Please contact us for the fully sourced data-set sortable by incident type and location, live map showing all ISIS and other sleeper-cell attacks since the start of the year, the full interview with the fire-fighter, and further analysis. This data was produced in collaboration with OSINT researcher Caki, and can be explored on the live map here.

Get in touch if you have any questions or are interested in covering the database.

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