U.S.-backed Syria forces say ISIS suicide bombers thwarted in last-stand

The enclave is the last shred of populated territory held by the jihadists who have been driven from roughly a third of both Iraq and Syria over the past four years.

By REUTERS
March 14, 2019 09:02
2 minute read.
ISIS fighter

ISIS fighter. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analysis from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later



BAGHOUZ, Syria March 13 - The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces militia said it thwarted an attempted Islamic State group suicide bomb attack early on Wednesday during a last-stand battle for the jihadist group's final enclave.

The SDF has said the battle for Baghouz, a collection of hamlets and farmland near the Iraqi border, is as good as over. Thick clouds of black smoke could be seen rising over the enclave on Wednesday afternoon. The sounds of gunfire, explosions and planes cold be heard.



The enclave is the last shred of populated territory held by the jihadists who have been driven from roughly a third of both Iraq and Syria over the past four years.



Mustafa Bali, a spokesman for the SDF media office, said its forces had been bombarding Baghouz heavily overnight before engaging in direct clashes with Islamic State fighters in the pre-dawn hours.



Live footage broadcast by the Kurdish Ronahi TV overnight showed a series of large explosions lighting up the night sky over Baghouz.



"There were suicide vest attacks by a group of bombers who tried to blow themselves up amidst our forces. Our forces targeted and killed them before they reached our positions," Bali said.



The SDF has laid siege to Baghouz for weeks but had repeatedly postponed its final assault to allow thousands of civilians, many of them wives and children of Islamic State fighters, to leave. It resumed the attack on Sunday.



Around 3,000 fighters and their families surrendered to SDF forces in 24 hours, Bali said overnight. Three women and four children belonging to the Yazidi sect, a minority group who were kidnapped and enslaved by Islamic State in 2014, were also freed, he said.



While Baghouz is the last populated territory of what was once the group's self-proclaimed "caliphate," fighters still operate in remote areas elsewhere.



The group put out a new propaganda video overnight Monday filmed in recent weeks inside Baghouz, maintaining its claim to leadership of all Muslims and calling on its supporters to keep the faith.



"Tomorrow, God willing, we will be in paradise and they will be burning in hell," one of the men interviewed in the video said.



The collapse of Islamic State's territorial rule comes at a pivotal point in the wider eight year multi-sided Syrian civil war, with President Bashar al-Assad's government having also recaptured most territory from rebels that tried to topple him.

Government forces rained incendiary bombs overnight on Idlib in the northwest, the last major area held by anti-Assad rebels, where fighting has escalated in recent weeks despite a September de-escalation agreement.

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

Syrian air defence batteries responding to what the Syrian state media said were Israeli missiles
July 24, 2019
Israel attacks Iranian stronghold in Syria - report

By REUTERS

Cookie Settings