Daesh in ‘its inal mo­ments,’ says SDF

They (Daesh) are liv­ing the fi­nal mo­ments and re­alise that this bat­tle is the bat­tle to elim­i­nate them, says the Usbacked Syr­ian Demo­cratic Forces me­dia head; 600 peo­ple leave in first evac­u­a­tion from Daesh hold­out: Mon­i­tor

The Gulf Today - - MIDDLE EAST -

Daesh mil­i­tants are “liv­ing their fi­nal mo­ments” in the last en­clave they hold near the Iraqi bor­der, where Us-backed Syr­ian Demo­cratic Forces (SDF) are at­tack­ing them, an SDF of­fi­cial said on Sun­day.

A de­feat of the mil­i­tants in the en­clave would wipe out Daesh’s ter­ri­to­rial foothold on the east­ern bank of the Euphrates River.

A spokesman for the Us-led coali­tion said the SDF were mak­ing “great progress ... but the fight con­tin­ues.”

The Syr­ian Demo­cratic Forces (SDF), a coali­tion of mili­tias led by the Kur­dish YPG, have driven Daesh from a swathe of north­ern and east­ern Syria with the help of the Us-led coali­tion over the last four years.

Mustafa Bali, SDF me­dia of­fice head, said the SDF had stepped up at­tacks in the last two days and taken con­trol of the area be­tween the Is­lamic State en­clave and the Iraqi bor­der, cut­ting an es­cape route.

“They are liv­ing the fi­nal mo­ments and re­alise that this bat­tle is the bat­tle to elim­i­nate them,” he added.

US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump last month an­nounced he would with­draw US forces from Syria, declar­ing they had suc­ceeded in their mis­sion to de­feat Daesh and were no longer needed.

Since then, US of­fi­cials have given mixed mes­sages. On Fri­day, the Usled coali­tion said it had started the pull­out, but of­fi­cials later said only equip­ment, not troops, were go­ing.

Colonel Sean Ryan, the coali­tion spokesman, said: “The SDF is mak­ing great progress and con­tin­ues to lib­er­ate more ter­ri­tory once held by Daesh, but the fight con­tin­ues.

“The last­ing de­feat of Daesh is still the mis­sion and they still present a very real threat to the long-term sta­bil­ity in this re­gion, so it is not over yet.”

The US de­ci­sion has in­jected new uncer­tainty into the eight-year-old Syr­ian war and spurred a flurry of con­tacts over how the se­cu­rity vac­uum will be filled in the swathe of north­ern and east­ern Syria where the US forces are now sta­tioned.

While Tur­key aims to pur­sue the Kur­dish forces al­lied with the United States, the Rus­sia- and Iran-backed Syr­ian gov­ern­ment sees a chance to re­cover ex­ten­sive ter­ri­tory.

US na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser John Bolton sug­gested last week that pro­tec­tion for Wash­ing­ton’s Kur­dish al­lies would be a pre­con­di­tion of the US with­drawal. Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Tayyip Er­do­gan called his com­ments “a se­ri­ous mis­take.”

Bali said the peo­ple of north­ern Syria and the coali­tion must dis­cuss a plan for “after the elim­i­na­tion of Daesh, and to take mea­sures to pre­vent Daesh re­or­gan­is­ing it­self and re­turn­ing once again”.

Daesh still holds ter­ri­tory on the western bank of the Euphrates, be­tween ar­eas con­trolled by the Syr­ian gov­ern­ment and its Rus­sian and Ira­nian-backed al­lies.

FIRST EVAC­U­A­TION

Over 600 peo­ple were evac­u­ated on Satur­day from Daesh group’s re­main­ing hold­out in east­ern Syria, a mon­i­tor said, as Us-backed fight­ers pre­pare for a fi­nal as­sault on the area.

“More than 600 peo­ple, mainly women and chil­dren, were evac­u­ated on 25 buses sent” by SDF, the Bri­tain-based Syr­ian Ob­ser­va­tory for Hu­man Rights said.

Ob­ser­va­tory head Rami Ab­del Rahman said that sev­eral dozen fight­ers were among those evac­u­ated to ar­eas held by the Kur­dish-arab al­liance.

Ab­del Rahman said some 16,000 peo­ple, in­clud­ing 760 Daesh fight­ers, have fled the area since the start of De­cem­ber. But “this is the first time that buses have been pro­vided by the SDF and coali­tion,” he said, sug­gest­ing a po­ten­tial deal had been struck be­tween the war­ring sides.

The United Na­tions said on Fri­day that over­all some 25,000 peo­ple have fled the vi­o­lence over the last six months as the die-hard ji­hadists have bat­tled to de­fend their dwin­dling bas­tions.

An es­ti­mated 2,000 civil­ians re­main trapped in the area around the town of Ha­jin, the UN said.

The Us-led coali­tion on Satur­day fired over 20 mis­siles against ji­hadist po­si­tions, the Ob­ser­va­tory said.

The mon­i­tor said some 300 SDF com­bat­tants had de­ployed near the vil­lage of Sousa in prepa­ra­tions for a fi­nal as­sault.

The fight to elim­i­nate the re­main­ing pock­ets of Daesh has been shaken by Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s shock De­cem­ber an­nounce­ment that he is with­draw­ing US troops from Syria.

Agence France-presse

A Syr­ian boy and girl wash their boots and shoes from a cis­tern at a camp for the dis­placed near the vil­lage of Shamarin, near the bor­der with Tur­key in the north­ern Aleppo prov­ince, on Satur­day.

Agence France-presse

A Syr­ian soldier waves as he stands atop a tank de­ployed at a po­si­tion in the vil­lage of Qart Saghir north­west of the north­ern town of Man­bij, near the frontline with forces from the Tur­key-backed Euphrates Shield al­liance, on Satur­day.

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