The US-led coalition fighting Islamic State has accused the Assad government of allowing the Sunni terrorists to move through its territory. The statement comes as the coalition continues to emphasize that the war against the extremists is not over in Syria.“They seem to be moving with impunity through regime-held territory, showing that the regime is clearly either unwilling or unable to defeat Daesh [ISIS] within their borders,” British Army Maj.-Gen. Felix Gedney, a deputy commander in the coalition, said on Wednesday, according to AFP.The coalition is working with its Syrian Democratic Forces partners in eastern Syria to defeat ISIS. In the last two months both Iraq and Syria have declared victory over ISIS. Other countries such as Russia and France have indicated that the conflict is winding down. But the coalition estimates that there are still about a thousand enemy fighters in the desert of Syria and Iraq.“We would call on the Syrian regime to clear ISIS from those areas that are currently under their control,” Gedney said.
On Twitter the coalition has stressed that it is working toward stabilization in the areas liberated from ISIS. On December 19 the coalition released a statement saying an air strike had killed a senior ISIS commander named Abu Faysal in the Euphrates Valley in Syria. The strike took place on December 1 and it wasn’t clear why it took two weeks to release the information.The coalition also says that the war is “not yet finished” and much more work remains to be done. This appears to come in the context of statements by the Syrian regime calling on the US and its 70 allies to leave the country. In response the coalition had said the regime must be held responsible for clearing ISIS from its territory.In southern Syria near the Jordanian border, the coalition is also continuing operations against ISIS in the Hamas desert. Last Saturday the Maghawir al-Thawra, a Syrian rebel unit the coalition has partnered with, “conducted a series of ground clearance operations on Saturday to drive Daesh out of the Hamad Desert in southern Syria,” according to a press release on Wednesday. “Ongoing successful operations follow previous engagements earlier this month, in which the MaT [Maghawir al-Thawra] killed several Daesh terrorists in the 55km. deconfliction zone recognized by the Coalition, Russia, and the Syrian Regime.”The larger picture is that the coalition wants to emphasize that it is still fighting ISIS, and that ISIS is exploiting the fact that Syria is divided into different zones to continue its jihad.
New conflicts threaten Syria after Islamic State defeat (credit: REUTERS)