The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are advancing in Hajin, Syria, as they seek to eject the self-declared caliphate’s men from one of the last areas under their control. And despite efforts to shutter the Islamic State’s media machine, the jihadists have provided a steady stream of reports on the fighting over the past several days.
As the battle intensified, the Islamic State’s diehards used whatever weapons they could to slow the SDF’s advance. During the past 24 hours, the group has reportedly conducted multiple suicide bombings, though it isn’t clear how many or how effective these “martyrdom” operations have been.
The Islamic State’s propaganda arm released a set of six pictures from one suicide bombing near the Hajin hospital. The militants attached armor to the front end of a small passenger vehicle and then loaded it with explosives. The photoset can be seen at the bottom this article.
The hospital in Hajin was struck by the US-led coalition days ago. Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) released a video purportedly showing an Islamic State fighter firing a weapon at the SDF from inside the hospital, thereby making it a military target.
The SDF was laying siege to the jihadi-held hospital and claims Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s loyalists detonated explosives inside the facility, effectively destroying it. [For more, see FDD’s Long War Journal report: US-backed forces battle Islamic State for control of Hajin, Syria.]
Earlier today, the Islamic State claimed that a separate suicide bombing was carried out against the SDF near the village of Al Bahra. The jihadists have released statements, in Arabic and French, claiming to have used SPG-9s and other projectiles in their defense as well.
In its media, the Islamic State consistently refers to the SDF as the PKK, or Kurdistan Worker’s Party, a US-designated terrorist organization. The Kurdish YPG (or People’s Defense Units) is a large contingent within the SDF and is also affiliated with the PKK.
The SDF has provided its own accounts of the most recent fighting on the “Hajin axis,” saying the international coalition conducted 57 strikes on Dec. 11 and another 35 on Dec. 12 in support of its ground operations.
The Islamic State’s “terrorists used all types of weapons.” However, the SDF says it has “made progress,” killing dozens of “terrorists” over the past two days and destroying the jihadists’ “weapons and fortifications.”
The US-backed fighting force claims to have dismantled a number of mines, while also destroying: explosive belts, a bulldozer, “24 terrorist sites,” “3 military roads,” mortar shells, and improvised explosives devices (IEDs). The SDF reports the presence of only one car bomb today.
The fighting is “still ongoing,” the SDF says.
Photos of Islamic State suicide bombing near the hospital in Hajin:
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