This is the 34th 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 April 1, 2023 – June 30, 2023. 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. ISIS capabilities remained degraded in Iraq and Syria during the quarter. However, the group continued to pose a threat and its violent ideology remained unconstrained. ISIS likely remained intent on breaking its fighters out of detention facilities to add to its ranks. ISIS also attempted to indoctrinate and recruit residents of displaced persons camps.
Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and Kurdish Security Forces (KSF) made no notable gains in counter-ISIS capability. There was no movement on the creation of ISF-KSF joint brigades, though the two forces coordinated more closely on counter-ISIS operations than before. In Syria, Coalition forces continued to train SDF and Internal Security Forces to provide security at detention facilities—where the SDF is holding an estimated 10,000 ISIS fighters—and al-Hol and other displaced persons camps.
Third party forces operating in Iraq and Syria—particularly Iran, Türkiye, Russia, and the Syrian regime—complicated the progress of the OIR mission. Their activities increased Coalition force protection needs, distracted partner forces, and escalated the risk of further conflict. Türkiye conducted ongoing unmanned aerial system (UAS) strikes targeting SDF leaders, claiming they were affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). Russia continued to violate deconfliction protocols it has agreed to with the U.S. military, mostly by conducting flights over U.S. forces in Syria. Iran-aligned militias conducted limited, ineffective attacks on U.S. and Coalition forces in Syria during the quarter.
There was limited progress toward U.S. goals to improve security, governance, promote economic growth, and address humanitarian crises in Iraq and Syria. On June 12, the Iraqi parliament approved a 3-year, $153 billion annual budget. The delayed passage of the budget contributed to delays in planning the provincial elections, which are now scheduled for December 18. In Syria, there was no progress toward a political solution to the conflict under UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2254. Ongoing conflict, weak economies, lack of public services, and natural disasters continued to create conditions for violent extremism to flourish.
Lead IG and partner agencies completed two management advisories and two reports related to OIR during the quarter, including on: DoD management of shipping containers and preposition stock equipment, including at facilities that support OIR; and on State’s management of programs at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon.
The Inspector General Act of 1978 provides a mandate for the three Lead IG agencies—the DoD OIG, State 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.