The latest addition to our combat footage section took place in the countryside around Raqqa, Syria. Fighters of the Syrian Defence Force (SDF) were negotiating the surrender of several surrounded ISIS fighters. The surrender was a trap from the beginning as the ISIS fighters proceeded to launch a murderous suicide charge against the SDF which ended in a number of the ISIS fighters being blown across the battlefield as one suicide vest detonated triggering the suicide vest being worn by the other fighters.

The shrapnel and body parts released by the detonation of the suicide vest causes the SDF to seek cover. Interestingly, one of the SDF fighters in frame calmly records the event only moving for cover when the explosions break out.

Who’s who in the suicide vest video?

SDF stands for the Syrian Democratic Forces. They are an alliance composed primarily of Kurdish, Arab, and Assyrian militias, as well as some smaller Armenian, Turkmen, and Chechen forces. The SDF is militarily led by the People’s Protection Units, a mostly Kurdish militia.

ISIS needs little introduction. It stands for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Officially known as the Islamic State and also known by its Arabic-language acronym Daesh. ISIS is a militant group and a formerly unrecognized proto-state that follows a fundamentalist, Salafi jihadist doctrine of Sunni Islam. Its followers have carried out a range of horrifying crimes against humanity during war and peace.

What’s the story behind the Syrian Civil War?

The Syrian civil war began in 2011 and continues to rage into its tenth year. It’s being fought between the Ba’athist Syrian Arab Republic led by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, along with domestic and foreign allies such as Iran and Russia, and various domestic and foreign forces opposing both the Syrian government and each other in varying combinations. The war is currently the second deadliest of the 21st century.

Insurgent

The Syrian Civil War erupted during the Arab Spring protests in 2011. Discontent with the long-reigning Assad regime turned into protests which were subsequently put down with violent force by the Assad regime. Shortly after, the discontent erupted into armed conflict.

The war is multi-sided and features a range of domestic factions: the Syrian Armed Forces and its international allies, a loose alliance of mostly Sunni opposition rebel groups (including the Free Syrian Army), Salafi jihadist groups (including Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham), the Kurdish-Arab Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), and the ISIS. However, the Syrian Civil War is most certainly an international conflict that features various countries being either directly involved or providing support to one or another faction such as Iran, Russia, Turkey, the United States, and the United Kingdom.

Suicide vest
Syrian rebel fighters sit behind deployed machine guns during a military parade near the southern city of Daraa on June 7, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Mohamad ABAZEED

Almost every side involved in the Syrian Civil War has been heavily criticized for their behavior or actions. The Assad government, ISIS, opposition rebel groups, Russia, Turkey, and the U.S.-led coalition have all been accused of human rights breaches and war crimes. The war has caused the most serious refugee crisis in modern times.

If you have a different theory as to what happened in the video or would like to add your take on the incident, feel free to comment below.

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Batya (Батя) is the founder of Reaper Feed. He is an international security advisor and a high-risk expedition leader across former and active conflict zones such as Eastern Ukraine, unrecognized post-Soviet states, the North Caucasus, and the Middle East. Batya founded Reaper Feed to provide unprecedented insight into the lesser-seen sides of human conflict and modern warfare. He is from the UK but his work means he is based in various countries around the world.