U.S.-backed Syrian fighters say they hold Islamic State leader's assistant

By REUTERS
November 30, 2018 18:20
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BEIRUT, Nov 30 - U.S.-backed fighters in Syria have captured a senior Islamic State leader who served as an assistant to the group's self-declared "caliph" Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, they said on Friday.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a Kurdish-led militia alliance that holds the quarter of Syria east of the Euphrates, detained Osama al-Awaid last week, it said in a statement.SDF fighters have been attempting to take Islamic State's last Syrian pocket of territory on the banks of the Euphrates near Iraq for weeks, in an offensive backed by U.S.-led air strikes.

They captured Awaid in a special operation in a village in eastern Syria, the statement said, adding that he had been a senior security official for Islamic State in the country.



More than a year after Islamic State's physical "caliphate" collapsed in both Syria and Iraq under military attack, Baghdadi's whereabouts remains a mystery.

However, despite its loss of territory, the group has been able to launch guerrilla attacks in areas controlled by both the Syrian and Iraqi governments.

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