This is the 31st Lead Inspector General (Lead IG) report to the United States Congress on Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR), the overseas contingency operation to advise, assist, and enable local partner forces until they can independently defeat ISIS in designated areas of Iraq and Syria, thereby setting conditions for the implementation of long-term security cooperation frameworks.
The report covers the period July 1, 2022 – September 30, 2022. It summarizes the quarter’s key events, and describes completed, ongoing, and planned Lead IG and partner agency oversight work related to OIR.
Through OIR, U.S. and Coalition forces seek the defeat of ISIS in designated areas of Iraq and Syria. While the frequency and lethality of ISIS attacks in Iraq and Syria remained low compared to previous years, ISIS remained an ongoing threat to U.S. interests in the region during the last quarter. In July, U.S. forces killed the ISIS leader in Syria Mahir al-Agal, who was also responsible for plotting attacks outside of Iraq and Syria. In August, Syrian partner forces conducted a major operation to clear ISIS operatives from the al-Hol displaced persons camp in northeastern Syria, where persistent ISIS violence and recruitment remains a concern.
U.S. military activity related to OIR focuses on advising and enabling of partner forces as they build their capacity to fight ISIS independently. The stalled Iraqi government formation continued to impact the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), delaying plans to fund more counterterrorism personnel and to establish a joint force with Kurdish Security Forces to conduct operations against ISIS in northern Iraq. The war in Ukraine continued to reduce the availability of parts for Iraqi aircraft. In Syria, Coalition forces continued efforts to grow and strengthen partner forces that are responsible for security at detention facilities holding ISIS fighters and at displaced persons camps, including al-Hol.
Meanwhile, third-party actors continued to undermine the OIR mission. Iran-aligned militias continued sporadic attacks on U.S. and Coalition facilities in Iraq, Syria, and Kuwait. Turkish and Turkish-aligned forces continued military operations in Syria and in Iraq. Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) leaders said that defending against these Turkish operations jeopardizes their ability to concurrently combat ISIS.
The OIR mission to defeat ISIS depends, in part, on addressing basic needs for food, water, and shelter; repatriating and reintegrating thousands of displaced Iraqis and Syrians; and strengthening economic opportunity and hope across the region. In Syria, USAID and other organizations expanded water, sanitation, and hygiene activities to address a cholera outbreak. During the quarter, the U.S. Government announced an additional $756 million in humanitarian assistance, including emergency food assistance, for the Syrian people.
The Lead IG and partner agencies completed six reports related to OIR. These reports examined activities including DoD funding to vetted Syrian opposition groups through the CTEF and accountability for U.S. government property at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. As of September 30, 2022, the Lead IG agencies had 8 projects ongoing and 4 projects planned.
Section 8L of the Inspector General Act of 1978 provides a mandate for the three Lead IG agencies—the DoD OIG, DoS OIG, and USAID OIG—to work together to develop and carry out joint, comprehensive, and strategic oversight. Each IG retains statutory independence, but together they apply their extensive regional experience and in-depth institutional knowledge to conduct whole-of-government oversight of these overseas contingency operations.