Earlier this week, the Special Air Service (SAS) mounted a raid against an Islamic State (ISIS) fortified position near the village of al-Shaafa in eastern Syria. According to the scant available information—the British Ministry of Defense (MoD) declines to comment on any inquiries about the United Kingdom Special Forces (UKSF)—the SAS assault force was comprised of around 30 operators, to include assaulters and snipers. Catching the jihadis completely unawares, the SAS raiding force managed to kill approximately 20 ISIS fighters as they attempted to flee the battlefield in vehicles.
The operation was a retaliatory strike for the serious wounding of two SAS operators by ISIS mortar strikes earlier in January. Although in critical condition, the two British commandos are expected to survive. The SAS operators were supporting the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which are predominantly comprised of Kurdish fighters, as they attacked close to the towns of Ash-Sha’Fah and Hajin.
Subject to the relentless pounding of coalition airstrikes and SDF attacks, ISIS’ hold in eastern Syria has shrunk to only a few small enclaves. On Wednesday, January 23, the SDF—supported by coalition special operations forces (SOF)—captured the village of Baghouz, one of the last ISIS strongholds in the area.
“Search operations are continuing in Baghouz to find any ISIS militants who are still hiding,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, to the Agence France-Presse (AFP). “The SDF will now have to push on into the farmland around Baghouz.”