Syrian guerrilla group goes head-to-head against Islamic State
A local guerrilla campaign has taken root in Syria, targeting Islamic State [IS] militants in the eastern part of the country where IS has established a stronghold.
The newly emergent guerrilla group, which calls itself “White Shroud” – in an apparent reference to the Islamic death shroud - says its goal is to respond to the notorious brutality of IS by instilling fear into its fighters, the Syrian group’s leader, who identified himself as Abu Aboud, told Reuters.
This is no small task for its members, many of whom had no fighting experience before IS arrived on the scene in Syria.
"Eighty percent of the members of White Shroud did not take part in combat before IS came. We trained them and they joined White Shroud because of the great oppression they felt after IS took control," Aboud said.
The guerrillas, which are said to number some 300 members, break up into four-person “cells” that function independently of each other and rely on secrecy for their success, he added.
According to the spokesperson of the group, Abu Ali Albukamali, the group’s goal has already been achieved. “The aim of this group — spreading fear among IS members — has been realized. Today, you never meet them walking alone. They mostly move in groups, afraid of abduction.”
Most of the Syrian guerrilla group’s activities are concentrated on the town of Al Bukamal, near the Iraqi border, which serves as a link between IS-controlled territory in Syria and Iraq.
The group claims it has already killed over 100 IS fighters in Deir al-Zor province in the past few months.
One of the group’s most successful engagements to date took place in Al-Bukamal, where it managed to kill 11 IS militants, according to Aboud, and confirmed by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights [SOHR].
In addition to fighting IS, another challenge for White Shroud is the US-led airstrikes, since they make it difficult and dangerous for the group to move around safely. Aboud explained that they advance in small groups, usually at night, on motor bikes.
Meanwhile, SOHR has confirmed the rise of similar guerrilla groups in Syria - including the Phantom Brigade and the Brigade of the Angel of Death - together with an increase in the number of successfully targeted IS positions, according to head of SOHR, Rami Abdulrahman.
News of the Syrian guerrilla group's success comes as Kurdish forces in the north of the country forced Islamic State militants to retreat from the Syrian town of Kobani amid heavy casualties on both sides.