Middle EastTerrorism

Syria Kurds Say Arrested More Than 100 IS Suspects

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said Friday they had arrested more than 100 “terrorists” in an eight-day operation against Islamic State group militants.

Kurdish-led forces launched the sweep dubbed Operation Al-Jazeera Thunderbolt last week, after thwarting an IS attempt to free fellow militants from prison in Raqa, the jihadist group’s former Syrian stronghold.

The Syrian Kurds have been seeking to underline their value as a partner to the West in its campaign against IS as NATO ally Turkey keeps up its threats to launch a new cross-border assault against territory under their control.

“During the sweep and raid operations, our forces arrested 154 wanted terrorists… and criminals,” the SDF said in a statement.

They included 102 suspected IS cell members and 27 others suspected of providing logistical supplies or propaganda, the statement added.

SDF fighters swept 55 villages and farms in the east as well as “large areas of the Syrian-Iraqi border.”

The SDF said the operation was carried out alongside troops of the US-led coalition, although there was no immediate confirmation from the international force.

It prevented attacks on the main Kurdish cities of Hasakeh and Qamishli during the Christmas and New Year holidays, the statement said.

Last week’s foiled prison break in Raqa was the most significant IS operation in Syria since a successful break from Ghwayran prison in Hasakeh last January.

Dozens of jailed militants escaped and the ensuing clashes killed hundreds.

Three of the suspects detained in the past week’s sweep were implicated in providing bombs and other equipment for the Ghwayran attack, the SDF said.

Although IS is a pale reflection of the organization that seized vasts swathes of Syria and neighboring Iraq and declared a “caliphate” in 2014, it still boasts a network of sleeper cells on both sides of the border that remains capable of carrying out deadly assaults.

Attacks blamed on IS militants in eastern Syria killed 12 oil workers and a Kurdish fighter last week.

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