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US SPECIAL FORCES KILL THREE ISIS LEADERS AND A HAMAS DELEGATION TO VISIT SYRIA

October 6-12, 2022 | Issue 21 - CENTCOM

Nereida Pérez, Giorgio Tiberio, Alberto Súarez, CENTCOM Team

Deepankar Patil, Editor; Hannah Norton, Senior Editor


Map of Syria’s governorates[1]



Date: October 6, 2022

Location: Al-Hasakah governorate, Syria

Parties involved: US; US special forces; ISIS; Syrian government forces; Russia; Russian troops in Syria; ISIS fighter Rakkan Wahid al Shammam; ISIS leader Abu Ala; ISIS leader Abu Mu’ad al-Qahtani

The event: US special forces killed three ISIS leaders in two separate military raids in the town of Qamishli in Al Hasakah governorate, killing al Shammam, an ISIS fighter and weapons facilitator, and leaders Abu Ala and al-Qahtani. The raids took place in Syrian government-held territory. The US did not inform Russia, an ally of the Syrian government, of the raids via the deconfliction hotline which is used to avoid incidents between the US and Russian forces.[2]

Analysis & Implications:

  • The presence of ISIS leaders in government-controlled territory very likely suggests ISIS expansion from its stronghold in Deir Ezzor governorate, east of Syria, to Al-Hasakah governorate, northeast of Deir Ezzor governorate. US special forces raids almost certainly expose the Syrian government’s incapability to fight ISIS and ISIS will almost certainly exploit this to increase its operations in the Al-Hasakah governorate. The killing of ISIS leaders will very unlikely deter ISIS from its activities, as its independent cells will almost certainly continue conducting terrorist attacks. ISIS is likely to conduct attacks in the upcoming weeks, almost certainly to avenge the latest US raids.

  • There is a roughly even chance of clashes occurring between US special forces and Russian forces in northern Syria, likely due to mistrust from Russian forces over the US’ use of the deconfliction hotline. Clashes between US and Russian soldiers will very likely limit avenues for potential cooperation in fighting ISIS in northern Syria. ISIS is very likely to exploit these tensions to reinforce itself in northern Syria, launching attacks against SDF and Syrian government forces.


Date: October 6, 2022

Location: Syria

Parties involved: Hamas; Syrian government; Syrian President Bashar Al Assad; Iran; Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC); Hezbollah; Saudi Arabia; Turkey; Iranian proxies in Syria; Liwa Fatemiyoun; Kata’ib Hezbollah

The event: A Hamas delegation will visit Syria in October to restore ties with Assad. Hamas had endorsed the 2011 uprisings against the Syrian government, a move criticized by Iran, an ally to both parties. Hamas seeks to gradually restore its relations with Syria to avoid antagonizing its Sunni financiers, as the victims of Assad’s crackdown in the Syrian Civil War were Sunnis.[3]

Analysis & Implications:

  • Renewed ties between Hamas and the Syrian government will very likely lead Iran to send more weapons to Hamas, likely in an effort to establish an Iran-led axis against Israel. This will very likely increase Hamas’ ability to produce its own drones and long-range rockets in the short term, almost certainly empowering it to launch more rocket and drone strikes against Israel. Increased cooperation with Iran and Syria will almost certainly lead to joint rocket and drone strikes against Israel, almost certainly coordinated by the IRGC and backed by Hezbollah.

  • Reconciliation between Hamas and the Syrian government under the influence of Iran will almost certainly prompt an Israeli response, very likely escalating Israeli airstrikes in Syria against Iranian military sites and the Golan Heights. Israel will almost certainly increase border surveillance in Gaza, the Golan Heights, and southern Lebanon to prevent, detect, and repel attacks from Hamas, Iranian proxies in Syria such as Liwa Fatemiyoun and Kata’ib Hezbollah, and Hezbollah respectively. Strengthened collaboration between Iran, Syria, and Hamas will very likely lead Israel to continue seeking the normalization of relations with other Arab countries, such as Saudi Arabia and Turkey, to counter Iranian influence in Syria.

 

The Counterterrorism Group (CTG)


[1] “Map of Syria`s governorates” by TUBS, licensed under Creative Commons

[2] US kills 3 Islamic State leaders in 2 Syria operations, AP, October 2022, https://apnews.com/article/islamic-state-group-government-and-politics-213107d106e22f070a29e73ba87a837f

[3] Hamas delegation to visit Syria this month aiming to revive ties -sources, Reuters, October 2022, https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/hamas-delegation-visit-syria-this-month-aiming-revive-ties-sources-2022-10-06/

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