U.S.-backed Syrian force: Islamic State in its 'final moments'

A defeat of the jihadists in the enclave would wipe out Islamic State's territorial foothold on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River.

By REUTERS
January 14, 2019 02:12
2 minute read.
An ISIS propaganda video shows a deadly ambush of US soldiers in Niger

An ISIS propaganda video shows a deadly ambush of US soldiers in Niger. (photo credit: screenshot)

 
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 analyses 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

Islamic State militants are "living their final moments" in the last enclave they hold near the Iraqi border, where US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are attacking them, an SDF official said on Sunday.

A defeat of the jihadists in the enclave would wipe out Islamic State's territorial foothold on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River.

A spokesman for the US-led coalition said the SDF were making "great progress ... but the fight continues".

The SDF, a coalition of militias led by the Kurdish YPG, have driven Islamic State from a swathe of northern and eastern Syria with the help of the US-led coalition over the last four years.

Mustafa Bali, head of the SDF media office, said its fighters had stepped up attacks in the last two days and taken control of the area between the Islamic State enclave and the Iraqi border, cutting an escape route.

"They are living their final moments and realize that this battle is the battle to eliminate them," he said.

US President Donald Trump last month announced he would withdraw US forces from Syria, declaring they had succeeded in their mission to defeat Islamic State and were no longer needed.

Since then, US officials have given mixed messages. On Friday, the US-led coalition said it had started the pullout, but officials later said it involved only equipment, not troops.

Colonel Sean Ryan, the coalition spokesman, said: "The SDF is making great progress and continues to liberate more territory once held by ISIS (Islamic State), but the fight continues.

"The lasting defeat of ISIS is still the mission and they still present a very real threat to the long-term stability in this region, so it is not over yet."


The US decision has injected new uncertainty into the eight-year-old Syrian war and spurred a flurry of contacts over how the security vacuum will be filled in the swathe of northern and eastern Syria where the US forces are now stationed.

While Turkey aims to pursue the Kurdish forces allied with the United States, the Russia- and Iran-backed Syrian government sees a chance to recover extensive territory.

On Sunday, Trump said Turkey would suffer economically if it attacked the Kurds, but did not say how. He also said he did not want the Kurds to provoke Ankara.

"Starting the long overdue pullout from Syria while hitting the little remaining ISIS territorial caliphate hard, and from many directions. Will attack again from existing nearby base if it reforms," Trump said on Twitter. "Will devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds. Create 20 mile safe zone ... Likewise, do not want the Kurds to provoke Turkey."

Russia, Iran and Syria had been the biggest beneficiaries of the long term US policy of destroying Islamic State in Syria, Trump said.

"We also benefit but it is now time to bring our troops back home. Stop the ENDLESS WARS!" he tweeted. It was not immediately clear what he meant by a 20-mile safe zone.

US national security adviser John Bolton suggested last week that protection for Washington's Kurdish allies would be a precondition of the US withdrawal. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan called those comments "a serious mistake".

Islamic State still holds territory on the western bank of the Euphrates, between areas controlled by the Syrian government and its Russian and Iranian-backed allies.

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

January 16, 2019
Report: American soldiers killed in Islamic State attack in Syria

By REUTERS