The Lead Inspector General report to the United States Congress on Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) has been published online. The 136-page report covers the period of October 1 to December 31, 2020 – although there are some updates that cover significant events that took place in January 2021.
The report states that Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) continued to contain the Islamic State (IS). The insurgent group has been operating at a low level in Iraq and Syria. It has failed to execute complex attacks, seize territory, or conduct external attacks.
Militia groups in Iraq continue to pose a security threat to U.S. forces and the OIR mission. Iranian-aligned militias have increased violent acts against U.S. interests. The Baghdad regime is caught in the middle between the United States and Iran in attempting to curtail the activities of these militia groups.
In Syria the United States interests are threatened by Iranian and Syrian regime proxies that are operating in northeastern Syria. These groups continue their attacks against the Syrian Democratic Forces and are attempting to gain influence in territory previously held by the Islamic State.
The IG report provides an update on the status of ISIS, reviews major developments in the two countries, and outlines its IG oversight activities. In addition, it has sections (about both Iraq and Syria) on the following:
- Actions conducted against ISIS
- Partner force development
- Role of third parties
- Diplomacy and political developments
- Humanitarian assistance
There are several appendices that cover the methodology for preparing the report, Department of Justice activities, actions against terrorist financing, acronyms, maps, and endnotes.
There is very little mention of U.S. special operations forces. One entry on page 60 of the report states that U.S. SOF sometimes accompany the SDF on targeted operations or support from a nearby mission support site. A “Ctrl-F” search of the document (PDF) for SOJTF, CSOJTF-S, or CSOJTF-I provides zero results. These three acronyms are not even listed in the two-page acronym appendix. Usually there is a classified appendix to this report that would likely provide some insight into SOF activities in Iraq and Syria for Congressional members (and others). However, due to constraints resulting from the coronavirus disease-2019 pandemic, the IG agencies did not prepare a classified appendix this quarter. If you are looking for an update on SOF activities in Iraq or Syria over the past few months you will need to go elsewhere.
There are some sections of the report that are very interesting and make for good reading if you are looking to increase your awareness of the current state of the conflicts in Iraq and Syria. For instance the map of Syria (page 56) reveals just how much of the territory once controlled exclusively by the SDF is now patrolled by Turkish, Syrian, and Russian forces. Coalition forces, for the most part, are reduced to operating on the eastern flank of northeastern Syria.
The report provides a good update (from the perspective of the DOD, State, and other agencies) on the overall situation in Iraq and Syria. There is a lot of information in the report on the situation and events taking place in the two countries that doesn’t get reported in the media.
Operation Inherent Resolve Lead Inspector General Report to the United States Congress, covers October 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020, published online February 9, 2021, PDF, 136 pages.
View online or download here.