In Focus |The launch of the third stage of Operation White Desert
On November 22, 2020, Russia launched the third military phase in the framework of the White Desert operation that it began in late August to pursue Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) cells located in the Badia areas extending between the cities of al-Bukamal, al-Mayadin and As Sukhnah.
The third phase of the military campaign focuses on the Syrian Desert in the eastern countryside of Deir ez-Zor west of the Euphrates River. The second phase, initiated on November 5, had covered the As Sukhnah desert in the eastern countryside of Homs which was also included as an area of focus in the first phase of Operation White Desert.
The 5th Corps and the Palestinian al-Quds Brigade are participating in the military campaign, led directly by Russian army officers, alongside two Russian formations. One Russian formation, formed of 75 fighters, is subordinate to the Russian Special Forces and the second formation, formed of 120 fighters, is subordinate to the Wagner auxiliary forces.
Operation White Desert was launched after ISIS assassinated General Vyacheslav Gladkikh on August 18, and then attacked a vehicle garage for Russian forces in the Badia.
ISIS attacks in the Badia region have increased constituting a threat to the military and economic supply routes which the Syrian regime and its allies depend on. These attacks undermine the regime’s ability to secure the left Euphrates Basin which is considered an advanced operations base regime forces to confront the Syrian Democratic Forces’ locations east of the Euphrates River.
It seems that Russia also fears that ISIS operations in the Badia will result in ISIS increasing its ability to store, arm and finance its fighters through the security strategy that it has followed since June 2019. This security strategy originally derives from ISIS experiences gained during its activities in Iraq before 2013.
Three months after the United States of America announced the elimination of ISIS, ISIS announced the start of the attrition attacks as it shifted from military to security activities.
Unit of Analysis and Thinking - Jusoor for Studies
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