Osama al-Awaid had been in charge of security for ISIS in Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor. Photo: SDF
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – SDF announced the capture of a high-ranking ISIS leader in Deir ez-Zor.
Osama al-Awaid was captured in an operation by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) counter-terror units on November 22 in Ta’ana village of Deir ez-Zor province, where he had been in hiding, according to the force.
Awaid “had been in charge of security affairs in ISIS-held regions across northern Syrian cities such as Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor,” the SDF stated.
They accuse Awaid of being directly involved in 40 deadly attacks on the SDF and civilians.
Mustafa Bali, media officer for the SDF, described Awaid as an assistant to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
ISIS’ influence and financial resources have been slashed. The group is now corralled into territory that is less than one percent of the ground it once controlled across Syria and Iraq, according to the US-led global coalition.
There are an estimated 2,000 militants in the Euphrates River valley between Deir ez-Zor’s Hajin town and the border with Iraq. They are a battle-hardened and ideologically-driven group that includes many foreign fighters and senior leaders.
Related: What is stalling the fight against ISIS in east Syria?
The SDF have recently suffered high casualties as ISIS took advantage of bad weather and a distraction from Turkey, which drew the SDF’s attention northward when it fired at Kurdish positions and villages on the border with Turkey.
“Our forces face many obstacles, to include the challenging weather and lack of visibility,” said SDF spokesperson Kino Gabriel this week.
“ISIS may seem to have the advantage of knowing the terrain, using previously built defences such as trenches and tunnels. They also continue their inhuman and radical use of suicide vehicles and civilians as human shields. However, despite these factors, we are confident of our ability to win and achieve the final defeat of terrorism.”
Conflict monitor the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Friday it was monitoring a new shipment of coalition weapons and military equipment being sent to the SDF in the Euphrates River valley from the Kurdistan Region. It documented 75 trucks, including 30 loaded with Hummers, 20 carrying Jeeps, and others with petrol and other vehicles.
It also reported a buildup of 15,000 more SDF troops in preparation for a new operation against ISIS.
Updated at 6:37 pm