Daesh evac­u­ate their last strong­hold


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After their with­drawal from Al Bu Ka­mal the ter­ror­ists dis­persed to desert vil­lages |

Daesh mil­i­tants with­drew yes­ter­day from their last strong­hold in Syria, a strate­gic town near the bor­der with Iraq, fol­low­ing a gov­ern­ment of­fen­sive that has ef­fec­tively left the ex­trem­ist group’s fight­ers dis­persed in vil­lages and small towns in the desert.

The Syr­ian mil­i­tary de­clared the town lib­er­ated after in­tense bat­tles that killed a large num­ber of mil­i­tants, in­clud­ing lead­ers. The mil­i­tary said they are still chas­ing other Daesh mil­i­tants in dif­fer­ent di­rec­tions in the desert.

“The lib­er­a­tion of Al Bu Ka­mal is of great im­por­tance be­cause it is a dec­la­ra­tion of the fall of this group’s project in the re­gion gen­er­ally and the col­lapse of its sup­port­ers’ il­lu­sions to di­vide it, con­trol large parts of the Syria-Iraq bor­ders and se­cure sup­ply routes be­tween the two coun­tries,” said Army spokesman Gen. Ali May­houb in a tele­vised state­ment.

Lib­er­ated at last

Syr­ian pro-gov­ern­ment me­dia said Syr­ian troops had clashed with the re­main­ing mil­i­tants in town after they en­tered it late Wed­nes­day. Yes­ter­day, they re­ported the town clear of Daesh fight­ers.

Pro-Syr­ian me­dia re­ported the town was lib­er­ated. Al Ikhbariya TV’s jour­nal­ist re­ported from the road to the town, joy­fully break­ing out on cam­era: “Daesh is fin­ished. Live.”

The Bri­tain-based Syr­ian Ob­ser­va­tory for Hu­man Rights said gov­ern­ment forces and al­lied troops, in­clud­ing Iraqi forces who linked from across the bor­der, are comb­ing through Al Bu Ka­mal after Daesh mil­i­tants with­drew.

With the col­lapse of Daesh in Al Bu Ka­mal, its fight­ers have no ma­jor ter­ri­to­rial con­trol in Syria and Iraq and are be­lieved to have dis­persed in the desert west and east of the Euphrates River. US of­fi­cials have es­ti­mated that there were be­tween 2,500 and 3,500 Daesh mil­i­tants around Al Bu Ka­mal. Lead­ing mem­bers of the group were also be­lieved to have taken refuge in Al Bu Ka­mal.

Daesh has suf­fered con­sec­u­tive de­feats at the hands of sep­a­rate but si­mul­ta­ne­ous of­fen­sives in Iraq and Syria by the Rus­sian­backed

Syr­ian forces and al­lied mili­tias as well as US-backed Iraqi and Syr­ian fight­ers.

De­spite its fall, the group’s me­dia ap­pa­ra­tus has re­mained ac­tive and its fight­ers are likely to keep up their in­sur­gency from desert ar­eas.

The swift fall of Al Bu Ka­mal in eastern Deir Al Zor province was ac­cel­er­ated after Iraqi forces seized Qaim, the town across the bor­der last week­end, also con­trol­ling a strate­gic cross­ing be­tween the two coun­tries.

Iraqi tie-up

A se­nior Iraqi of­fi­cial said there was an agree­ment Tues­day to send Iraqi paramil­i­taries to Syria to take part in the Al Bu Ka­mal op­er­a­tion, adding that the Syr­i­ans were to sup­ply them with weapons and gear. The of­fi­cial spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause he was not au­tho­rised to speak.

An Iraqi spokesman for the Pop­u­lar Mo­bil­i­sa­tion Forces told The As­so­ci­ated Press last week that his forces, part of the Iraqi se­cu­rity forces, would par­tic­i­pate in the op­er­a­tion and will head north to pro­tect the bor­ders and se­cure the road from Iran to Le­banon.

Al Bu Ka­mal is the last ur­ban cen­tre for the mil­i­tants in both Iraq and Syria where Syr­ian troops — backed by Rus­sia and Ira­nian-sup­ported mili­tias — and US-backed Syr­ian Demo­cratic Forces are vy­ing for con­trol of the bor­der town.

Wash­ing­ton is wary of in­creas­ing Ira­nian in­flu­ence in the area and has backed the SDF in their bid to up­root Daesh from the bor­ders with Iraq. The prox­im­ity of forces in the area has raised con­cerns about po­ten­tial clashes be­tween them as they ap­proach Al Bu Ka­mal from op­po­site sides of the Euphrates River.

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