ISIS defends final pocket of dying 'caliphate' in Syria

20 Février, 2019, 06:56 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • ISIS defends final pocket of dying 'caliphate' in Syria

US President Donald Trump called on his European allies to take back alleged jihadists captured in Syria, prompting Belgium to call for a "European solution" to the security issue. "The Caliphate is ready to fall", the U.S. president tweeted.

Diehard jihadists have blocked roads out of the last scrap of their Islamic State group "caliphate" in Syria, US-backed forces fighting them said Sunday, preventing hundreds of civilians from fleeing.

"The US does not want to watch as these ISIS fighters permeate Europe, which is where they are expected to go", Trump said.

But in December, Mr Trump surprisingly announced the withdrawal of United States troops from Syria as he believed IS had been "beaten".

The fight against the Islamic State in Syria is virtually won, and "an orderly step-by-step withdrawal" of US troops will follow, Jeffrey said.

Since then, no troops have been withdrawn, however, last month the Pentagon confirmed additional troops were being sent to protect American forces and equipment as they prepare to leave.

As the SDF advanced under heavy US airstrikes in recent days, a stream of civilians fled the few square miles of hamlets and farmland that remain within Islamic State's "caliphate", along with defeated jihadists trying to escape unnoticed.

The final pocket of Isis fighters have been pushed into an area of 700 square metres, and their capture would mark the end of the terror groups four-year reign of destruction of Syria.

A spokesman for the U.S. coalition, which has been backing the SDF with air strikes, said ISIS was using these women and children as "human shields".

Backed by a US -led worldwide coalition, the SDF has recaptured swathes of northeastern Syria from Islamic State since 2015, finally cornering the group around Baghouz at the Iraqi border.

Hostages, including fighters from the Kurdish-led forces and civilians, were another reason the advances were slowed down.

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Votel was also expected to discuss with officials in Baghdad what impact the USA withdrawal might have on Iraq, where Islamic State has already shifted to guerrilla hit-and-run tactics after losing all its territory.

SDF officials, however, deny any negotiations with IS fighters.

But the town would be cleared "in just a few days", said Shaddadi, who seemed visibly impatient.

Once American forces leave, another complication emerges: The future of areas in northern Syria controlled by Kurdish YPG forces, a key USA ally in the fight against militants but a militia branded terrorists by Turkey.

US Army General Joseph Votel, who oversees US forces in the Middle East, said the end of the territorial caliphate would lead to a more dispersed, harder-to-detect network of fighters waging guerrilla warfare.

Battle-hardened militants, including some of the group's leading fighters and foreign commanders, had taken refuge in the area between Syria and Iraq.

Beyond Baghouz, IS still has thousands of fighters and sleeper cells scattered across several countries.

In Syria's northwest, Syrian government forces and their allies have intensified a bombing campaign in Idlib and surrounding areas in recent weeks, coupled with attacks by armed groups that have killed civilians, Bachelet said.

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Kheda Saratova, an adviser to Chechnya leader Ramzan Kadyrov, said that about 200 children have been brought to Russian Federation, but almost 1,400 are still stuck in Iraq and Syria.

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