BEIRUT, LEBANON (12:10 P.M.) – The first four months of 2018 has proven that Islamic State forces, although severely reduced in terms of their once very formidable military capabilities, are still present and active within government-held areas of eastern Syria.
The mode of ISIS operations throughout Syria’s east has changed in accordance to what has been witnessed in Iraq since the end of 2017 where the terrorist group has returned to a strategy of waging a low-intensity insurgency revolving around hit-and-run attacks.
According to Al-Masdar News sources, Islamic State forces possess units of light-armed fighters that are hidden behind Syrian Army lines throughout the rugged terrain of eastern Homs province – namely in caves and tunnels.
Namely, ISIS is known to possess hideouts throughout the Bilas mountain chain (northwest of Palmyra) and the hills north of Sukhnah due to the fact that it has attacked pro-government forces from such areas. The number of fighters present in these areas can only be guessed at for now.
Furthermore, Russian military officials have publicly stated that Islamic State militants are also present within the 55-kilometer At-Tanf buffer zone maintained by US-backed forces (including actual US military units) along the Iraqi border. Despite the controversy of such a claim, this has already been somewhat proven (details here).
To this effect, recent ISIS attacks against Syrian Army positions along the Damascus-Baghdad highway near the Zaza checkpoint area, although originally thought to have been launched from south of Palmyra, are now believed by some sources to be coming from the At-Tanf region.
A map will be released soon to better articulate the situation.