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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 14 November 2018

Bomb attacks against US-backed forces in Syria rise five-fold

New report documents rise of an Iran-backed Sunni tribal resistance movement

Fighters of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces launched an operation against ISIS in Deir Ezzor on September 10, 2018. Reuters
Fighters of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces launched an operation against ISIS in Deir Ezzor on September 10, 2018. Reuters

The number of bomb attacks against US-backed forces and American troops in Syria has risen more than five-fold since the establishment of an Iran-backed force in June, according to a new report.

In the three months prior to June, there were 12 improvised explosive device attacks recorded, compared to the 78 in the three months following the creation of the Sunni tribal resistance movement, according to IHS Conflict Monitor.

The recorded IED attacks predominantly took the form of roadside IEDs targeting SDF and US patrols, the consultancy said.

“The recorded increase in attacks is most likely the result of a structured campaign by the tribal resistance movement,” said Columb Strack, principal Middle East analyst at IHS Markit.

“The increased number of attacks, and the locations in which attacks were conducted, appears to indicate concerted, organized efforts by these groups to pressure the US into withdrawing from Syria.”

The movement was formed "against foreign intervention and the American presence on Syrian soil," it said.

“There is likely to be overlap in motivation and individuals among those carrying out attacks against the US and SDF on behalf of the Islamic State and the tribal resistance movement,” Mr Strack said.

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The force is also subject to attacks by ISIS in eastern Syria.

Last week, ISIS militants stormed a settlement for displaced people in eastern Syria and abducted scores of civilians in the latest attack by the extremists on civilians, a US-backed Syrian force and a war monitor said on Saturday.

The area in Syria's eastern Deir Ezzor province has been witnessing days of intense clashes between ISIS and the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces amid bad weather and low visibility.

The SDF said in a statement that the fighting on Friday in the Hajin camp for the displaced left 20 ISIS gunmen and "several" SDF fighters dead. It said ISIS gunmen seized civilians and took them to areas in the last pocket of territory they control in the region.