(Photo credit: AP)
Over the past few weeks, the northeastern Syrian city of Raqqa has witnessed successive Kurdish-led operations against ISIS cells, allegedly as part of Washington’s recent efforts to fortify the city and reclaim its influence there, Al-Akhbar reported on 2 February.
According to the Lebanese daily, this US-sponsored activity in Syria’s former ‘ISIS capital’ comes at a time when Washington hopes to bolster its influence in the nation’s eastern region, where their Al-Tanf occupation base is located.
This is done through efforts to revive the Raqqa Revolutionary Brigade and increase military and financial support to the Free Syrian Army (FSA) factions housed inside Al-Tanf. It also comes after the establishment of a new US occupation base in Raqqa in November 2022.
Washington’s latest scheme in northeast Syria reportedly aims to counter Moscow’s influence in the country and pose an obstacle to Russian-sponsored efforts to reconcile ties between Damascus and Ankara.
As part of an operation launched by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on 25 January, the Kurdish militant group recently announced the arrest of over 150 ISIS suspects.
According to Brigadier General Ali al-Hassan of the Kurdish Asayish security forces, the operation aims to “control the activity” of ISIS cells as the extremist group seeks to restructure itself.
However, Al-Akhbar says the recent ISIS resurgence in Raqqa is “a suspicious coincidence with Washington’s [expansion] of its presence in Syria,” claiming the situation is “almost identical to what happened last year, when the organization reappeared in eastern Syria, in conjunction with the redeployment of US forces.”
It was reported in April 2022 that US forces gave logistical and military support to ISIS militants in the region.
Many, including Syrian officials, have claimed that the recent increase in ISIS activity in Syria is being encouraged by Washington as a pretext to prolong its occupation of Syria’s oilfields, which the US claims it is preventing from falling into the hands of ISIS.
Aside from Raqqa, a boost in ISIS activity has also been recorded in the Al-Badia desert region and the eastern Deir Ezzor governorate.
Across the north and northeast of the country, other militant groups have also been bolstering their anti-government activity in rejection of the Turkish-Syrian talks, with many suggesting that an escalation and a resumption of armed conflict across Syria is imminent.