Syrian Democratic Forces launch final assault against ISIS in Hajin

by Meghan Bodette    


The Syrian Democratic Forces announced the final phase of Operation Jazira Storm in a press conference Tuesday morning, promising to clear ISIS from its last stronghold in Hajin, a city on the Euphrates River near the Iraqi border.

“[We are] aiming to eliminate Daesh in the last strongholds and liberate the villages and towns of Hajin, Sousa, and al-Shafa with their villages and farms, [in] a geographical area of 35 km by 10 km, as a culmination of the results of our previous campaigns in [Operation] Jazira Storm,” a statement released by the SDF Press Center read.

The operation will include fighters from the Deir Ezzor Mliitary Council, YPG and YPJ special forces, and “units and formations of the border guards” and will be supported by the Coalition and the Iraqi Army, according to the SDF statement.

The announcement comes just days after high-level Coalition officials held several meetings with SDF leadership and the United States announced that it would stay in Syria 'indefinitely.'.

The people of Hajin called for SDF support before the campaign began. As residents of the Hajin town, we need nobody to rule over us. We can govern ourselves,” a letter sent to SDF command in August read. “The ISIS gangs that suffered a defeat in Raqqa have increased their pressures against the people of Hajin. The town has been filled with foreign mercenaries and these started immoral attacks on the people and their sacred sites.”

The SDF said that this would be their final operation east of the Euphrates River— leaving the possibility of participation in operations in northwest Syria open. Some reports have stated that the SDF may participate in planned operations to clear Idlib of al-Qaeda affiliated terrorist groups, though SDF sources maintain they will only participate in such operations if they are called to do so by the people of Idlib and there is a "clear plan" to retake Afrin from Turkish-backed jihadists. 

Other statements proved optimistic about the Hajin operation and the SDF's future role in Syria. “Today is the beginning of a new chapter in the history of Syria,” SDF spokesman Kino Gabriel said in a video posted to Twitter. “Let us make it the best. Let us create a Syrian state of our own making, a state we can all believe in.”