Annual Sleeper Cell Report 2020 – SDF and Coalition Diminish Capability of ISIS, Lower Attacks and Deaths Across the Region


Politically, the AANES and SDF continue to walk a tight rope between their allies and enemies. From the US-led Coalition, the SDF remains its number one ally in the region for a sustained resistance to ISIS and its network of sleeper cells. However, with the US’s NATO alliance with Turkey, the US showed their unwillingness to protect NES from Turkish incursion and subsequent occupation. Former Special Envoy to Syria James Jeffery was quoted that the US military only had two objectives for remaining in Syria for the foreseeable future: continue its ISIS counter measures, and prevent Iran from accessing more Syrian territory. These select motives pushed the SDF into negotiations with Russia which allowed Russian military police as well as forces loyal to Damascus to reinforce the SDF positions along the occupied areas controlled by Turkey and its militia groups after the October invasion in 2019. However, it is widely known that Turkey and Russia are involved in a quasi-alliance, with common or overlapping interests that include: the sale of S400 missile systems,the backing opposing sides in the Libya conflict, the backing of opposing sides in the Armenia and Azerbaijan conflict, and remain in a stalemate in the Idlib area of north west Syria. It appears that no super power or country as concern about the welfare of the Syrian civilians. While all this turns and grinds on the stage of global politics, ISIS and other clandestine actors continue to wreak havoc on North and East Syria.

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