Published: Thu, March 21, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Kurdish-led fighters advance on last IS bastion in eastern Syria

Kurdish-led fighters advance on last IS bastion in eastern Syria

The suspects were captured Tuesday when USA -backed forces took control of an ISIS encampment in the village of Baghouz, the last sliver of territory in Syria held by the extremists, Mustafa Bali, the spokesman for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, said in a Twitter post. None of those visible appeared to be armed.

"Do you think the displacement of the weak and poor out of Baghouz will weaken the Islamic State?".

While it would represent a significant milestone in Syria's eight-year-old war and in the battle against Islamic State, the jihadist group remains a threat.

Diehard jihadists have been mounting a desperate defence of the camp at Baghouz, deploying suicide bombers and vehicle bombs.

Earlier, the SDF said it captured 157 militants trying to escape Baghouz.

Even facing defeat, Islamic State's propaganda machine still functions.

"My Muslim brothers everywhere, we did our best, the rest is up to God, " a fighter says as black smoke rises from behind him.

On Monday night, ISIS released an audio recording from its spokesman, known only as Abu Hassan Al Muhajir, saying the group would remain strong.

It has also put out a video from inside the Baghouz camp, showing bearded fighters among bullet-pocked cars and lying on earth ramparts as they fired assault rifles.


Mr Bali declined to specify the nationalities of the captured fighters and did not say when the operation took place.

Against this scene, a man with a scarf wrapped around his head declaims a message of defiance: "The crusaders have forced us from our homes and burned us, may God exact the same from them".

"Two days ago. he was at the forefront of the fighting and he died in battle", he told AFP.

The U.S. military has warned that Islamic State may still count tens of thousands of fighters, dispersed throughout Iraq and Syria, with enough leaders and resources to present a menacing insurgency.

Russian Federation launched a military intervention in Syria in September 2015, eventually helping Assad's forces to regain large areas of the country.

A spokesman for US -backed forces fighting the Islamic State group in Syria says they have captured a group of suspects involved in a January bombing that killed four Americans in a town in northern Syria.

The complete fall of Baghouz would mark the end of the Islamic State group's self-declared territorial "caliphate, " which at its height stretched across much of Syria and Iraq.

The January bombing came shortly after President Trump announced a withdrawal of USA forces from Syria and prompted a backlash from politicians who called for US troops to remain in Syria.

Washington has now partially reversed Trump's decision, planning to leave 200 peacekeepers in SDF-held territory.

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