On December 28, 2022, 1,000 members of the Syrian Democratic Forces and Internal Security Forces of North and East Syria (NES), in coordination with the International Coalition to Defeat ISIS, launched a major operation to target ISIS cells in the Tel Hamis, Tel Barak, and Al-Hol regions of NES. 

The operation lasted for a period of eight days, in which more than 150 raids and 40 village clearance operations took place, leading to the capture of over 170 ISIS members, and the seizure of hundreds of weapons and logistical materials being used by ISIS cells.

The operation, known as Al-Jazeera Thunderbolt, was a response to a major ISIS attack on an SDF facility in Raqqa on December 26, in which six SDF fighters were killed. 

The SDF’s operation had already been planned in November, however, Turkey’s week-long air and artillery campaign at the end of the month forced the SDF to postpone the operation to counter the Turkish attacks.  

ISIS plans to conduct attacks during Christmas and New Year’s celebrations in the cities of Qamishli and Hasakah were disrupted by the operation. Following the operation’s successful conclusion, U.S. Air Force Brigadier General Claude Tudor, Commander of the Combined Special Operation Joint Task Force – Levant commander stated that “Our Partner Forces in Syria have shown great dedication and commitment to defeating ISIS, and continuously conduct complex counter-terror independent operations by request of local sheikhs to deter malign activity and influence.”

The SDF said that they would continue hunting down ISIS cells and combating the terrorist group to support stability throughout the region, a goal that is shared with the United States and the International Coalition, which has constantly stressed the need to keep the focus of military operations in Syria on the fight against ISIS.

ISIS operatives captured by NES security forces during Operation Al-Jazeera Thunderbolt