Fight against last ves­tige of Daeshin Syria stalls

StarMetro Toronto - - CANADA & WORLD - Eric Sch­mitt

AM­MAN, JOR­DAN—A U.s.backed mil­i­tary of­fen­sive has stalled against the Daesh group’s last ves­tige in eastern Syria — in part be­cause of the en­emy that the al­lied fight­ing force had ex­pected and other threats that it very much had not. Booby traps, land­mines and a mil­i­tant coun­ter­strike have knocked the coali­tion back on its heels.

And last week, the Syr­ian Demo­cratic Forces, the Kur­dish-led mili­tia that is fight­ing the Daesh with U.S. help, sus­pended op­er­a­tions after Kur­dish po­si­tions far­ther north were shelled by Tur­key — not far from U.S. ad­vis­ers. U.S. diplo­mats and gen­er­als rushed to ease ten­sions with the Turks, who con­sider Kur­dish fight­ers ter­ror­ists. But the episode un­der­scores the shift­ing na­ture of the fight against the Daesh, a still-po­tent threat as it piv­ots from its bat­tle­field losses in Iraq and Syria to di­rect­ing guer­rilla in­sur­gen­cies in the Mid­dle East and be­yond.

“Al­though Daesh’s safe haven in Iraq and Syria has largely col­lapsed, its global en­ter­prise of al­most two dozen branches and net­works ... re­mains ro­bust,” Rus­sell Travers, the head of the Na­tional Coun­tert­er­ror­ism Cen­ter, told sen­a­torslast month. The U.s.-backed mil­i­tary of­fen­sive was forced to back away from their op­er­a­tion due to a high level of un­ex­pected threats.

HUS­SEIN MALLA/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

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