ISIS Member in Charge of Funding Sleeper Cells Killed in SDF Operation

January 20, 2020 Updated: January 20, 2020

A member of the ISIS terrorist group responsible for sleeper cell attacks against the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) has been killed in Deir ez-Zur, Syria, according to a military spokesperson.

Abu Alward Al-Iraqi, an Iraqi citizen, was killed in an Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) and Syrian commando raid, OIR spokesman Col. Myles B. Caggins III said in a statement on Twitter. “The ISIS Oil Emir was killed during @SOJTFOIR & Syrian commando raid. This hinders Daesh’s ability to fund terrorism,” Caggins wrote on Sunday. According to the Rojava Network, Al-Iraqi was responsible for providing money and oil to finance ISIS cells.

The SDF said Al-Iraqi was killed when clashes erupted between ISIS terrorists and the Kurdish-led forces during the Jan. 14 operation where they were also able to “seize a quantity of ammunition and documents,” reported Kurdistan24.

Al-Iraqi “was in charge of oil and funding ISIS sleeper cells and supervising ISIS attacks in the area,” the SDF said.

Caggins said the operation disrupts the terror group’s ability to generate revenue to finance its activity in Deir ez-Zur.

“ISIS would love to get their terrorists’ hands on the oil in eastern Syria, it’s a historical revenue source for them; with our Syrian commando partners, we will not allow this to happen again,” he told Kurdistan 24. “Our Syrian commando partners continue to prove their mettle in the fight against ISIS remnants.”

The SDF announced that it had defeated the extremist group’s self-proclaimed caliphate in March 2019 after destroying its last stronghold in the town of al-Baghouz in the eastern countryside of Deir ez-Zor.

A fighter from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) holds a weapon in the village of Baghouz, Deir Al Zor province, Syria, on March 17, 2019. (Stringer/Reuters)

“Baghouz is free and the military victory against Daesh has been achieved,” said Mustafa Bali, a spokesman for the Kurdish-led SDF, referring to ISIS by its Arabic acronym. At its height, ISIS ruled a third of both Syria and Iraq, holding millions of people hostage to its harsh and violent interpretation of Islamic law.

While it imposed an unforgiving version of ISIS through public beheadings and crucifixions, the group also carried out governance in its territories, including regulating prices at markets.

ISIS terrorist leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed in northern Syria in October last year after U.S. special forces launched a nighttime raid on an ISIS-held compound.

However, ISIS sleeper cell attacks continue to occur in areas now liberated from its brutal rule and the SDF, internal security forces, and the coalition continue in their efforts to drive out remaining ISIS members in Syria.

On Jan. 13, ISIS terrorists launched an attack on the Al-Waleed Syrian-Iraqi border crossing located in the Al-Qa’im District of western Al-Anbar, killing one officer and wounding four others, CNN reported.

Just one day prior, a number of ISIS terrorists launched a failed attack on another security post near the Syrian border but fled after Iraqi security forces fired back.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a human rights watchdog group, estimates that there are at least 4,000 to 5,000 active ISIS members in Syria’s northeast.