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US partner forces repel ISIS attack in Syria, Central Command says

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Syrian Defense Forces conduct a live-fire exercise alongside U.S soldiers in Syria on March 25, 2022. (Spc. William Gore/Army)

U.S.-partnered Syrian Democratic Forces repelled a suicide bomb attack by Islamic State militants in Northeastern Syria early Tuesday, according to a statement from U.S. Central Command.

At approximately 12:25 a.m., seven ISIS fighters in two vehicles were intercepted by Syrian Democratic Forces headed in the direction of the Internally Displaced Person Camp at al-Hol, the statement said. One car exploded prematurely outside of Um Fakik village, roughly 12 miles from the camp. The other vehicle was surrounded by Syrian Democratic Forces, where one ISIS fighter detonated his vest and another was shot by SDF personnel.

“By taking immediate action, and showing disregard for their own safety, the Syrian Democratic Forces demonstrated their professionalism and commitment to creating and maintaining a safe and prosperous region for the people who make it their home,” said CENTCOM spokesman Col. Joe Buccino. “The response of our partnered forces highlights not only dedication to their people, but also their tenacity and commitment to the enduring defeat of ISIS.”

No SDF were wounded, according to CENTCOM. One ISIS fighter was taken prisoner — and four others were killed — in the exchange.

The intercepted attack comes after a 24-day operation by SDF units to take out ISIS networks in the 60,000-person camp at al-Hol concluded on Sunday.

Aided by CENTCOM with reconnaissance and intelligence, SDF arrested roughly 300 ISIS operatives and secured 25 kilograms of explosives, according to CENTCOM.

Partner forces also secured the release of six women, who had been kidnapped and tortured by ISIS leaders for years, according to CENTCOM.

“ISIS preys on the weak and disenfranchised and is trying to exploit the conditions in the camp to help regenerate its forces,” Gen. Michael Kurilla, commander of CENTCOM, said in a statement. “The situation in al-Hol is an international crisis that requires an international solution, and the only permanent solution is the repatriation, rehabilitation, and reintegration of camp residents.”

Zamone “Z” Perez is an editorial fellow at Defense News and Military Times. He previously worked at Foreign Policy and Ufahamu Africa, where he helped produce podcasts. He is a graduate of Northwestern University, where he researched humanitarian intervention and atrocity prevention in his thesis.

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