(Photo credit: Mikhail Voskresenskiy/Sputnik)
According to reports, a Syrian Arab Army (SAA) patrol was attacked by ISIS militants on 7 January in the Al-Badia desert region, west of the northern city of Raqqa, leaving at least one soldier dead and a number of others injured.
Local media reported that the attack left two Syrian soldiers dead and four injured, whereas Saudi news channel Al-Hadath reported the death of one soldier and the injury of five.
The Al-Hadath news report said that the militants took advantage of heavy fog in order to carry out the ambush stealthily. Afterwards, the SAA sent reinforcements to the site of the attack, and immediately began search operations to find the attackers.
Over the past year, ISIS activity has increased significantly in Deir Ezzor, Raqqa, Hama, and Homs, as well as Syria’s desert regions such Al-Badia, where this latest ambush was carried out. Al-Badia, in June of this year, witnessed a large-scale anti-ISIS operation carried out simultaneously by Syrian and Russian forces. In October, the Syrian army was reported to have been planning yet another operation in that area.
“ISIS is short on members in the Al-Badia area. It is mainly relying on ambush operations and is no longer able to launch large-scale military operations,” Zain al-Abidin al-Akeidi, a journalist from Deir Ezzor, told media at the time.
Although ISIS has lost the vast majority of territory it previously occupied in Syria, the extremist group still operates in small pockets across the country.
Many have suggested that the recent surge in ISIS activity is being encouraged by Washington in order for it to create a pretext to maintain its occupation of the country and its oilfields, which the US claims it is protecting from ISIS.
According to reports from April, US forces stationed in the illegal Al-Tanf base have been providing logistical and military support to ISIS militants in the region.
A little over one week ago, a suspected ISIS missile attack on Deir Ezzor’s Al-Taim oilfield left 10 workers dead and several injured. Syria’s Oil Minister, Bassam Tohme, suggested at the time that this particular attack was carried out with Washington’s knowledge.