Turkey says ‘100 Daesh fighters’ left in Syria’s Al-Bab

Free Syrian Army fighters. (Reuters)
Updated 22 February 2017
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Turkey says ‘100 Daesh fighters’ left in Syria’s Al-Bab

ISTANBUL: Turkey said Wednesday fewer than 100 Daesh terrorists were still holed up in a flashpoint Syrian town which has seen the bloodiest clashes of Ankara’s half-year campaign inside the conflict-torn country.
Speaking to NTV television, Defense Minister Fikri Isik said half of the town of Al-Bab was in the hands of Turkish troops and allied pro-Ankara Syrian rebels, after the government repeatedly said it was “largely under control.”
Since launching its unprecedented incursion into Syria in August, Turkey has been focusing on Al-Bab as the last bastion of IS extremists in Aleppo province.
But the battle for the town has been fierce, with most of the 69 Turkish soldiers killed in the Syria campaign dying there.
“We estimate there are less than 100” IS fighters left in Al-Bab, Isik told NTV. “But they are very dangerous people. Some are snipers, some are potential suicide bombers.”
“More than half of the town is now in our hands,” he said, indicating that the operation to surround Al-Bab was “over” with troops now moving from district-to-district to “clean up” the town.
“Until this clean-up inside is completed, it’s impossible to say that our work is over,” he added.
Rebel commanders on the ground told AFP troops were facing fierce resistance, with IS using snipers and laying roadside bombs.
But Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told AFP in Beirut that Turkish troops and allied rebels controlled only 25 percent of Al-Bab, with some 700 jihadists still fighting there.
The Britain-based Observatory has also accused Turkish forces of killing more than 110 civilians in two weeks of air strikes and shelling.
But Ankara has vigorously denied claims that innocent lives have been lost, insisting it does its best to avoid civilian casualties.


Security tops agenda as Iraqi PM visits Egypt in first foreign trip

Updated 23 March 2019
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Security tops agenda as Iraqi PM visits Egypt in first foreign trip

  • After meeting Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, Abdul Mahdi highlighted “the importance of drying up the sources of terrorism”
  • The visit to Egypt is Abdul Mahdi’s first trip abroad since taking office in October

CAIRO: Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi sought Egypt’s support for efforts to tackle extremist militants in the region during a visit to Cairo on Saturday, his first trip abroad since taking office in October.
After meeting Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, Abdul Mahdi highlighted “the importance of drying up the sources of terrorism” and said “cooperation between Egypt and Iraq will be essential for this matter,” according to an official statement.
His comments came as US-backed forces said they had captured Daesh’s last shred of territory in eastern Syria at Baghouz, ending its territorial rule over a self-proclaimed caliphate straddling Syria and Iraq after years of fighting.
Though the defeat ends the group’s grip over the extremist quasi-state that it declared in 2014, it remains a threat.
Some Daesh fighters still hold out in Syria’s remote central desert and in Iraqi cities they have slipped into the shadows, staging sudden shootings or kidnappings and awaiting a chance to rise again.
The United States thinks the group’s leader, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, is in Iraq.
Defeating militants in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and restoring security after years of unrest has been a key promise of El-Sisi, the general-turned-president who came to power a year after the military overthrew Islamist President Mohammed Mursi in 2013.
Egypt has fought an insurgency waged by a Daesh affiliate in North Sinai since 2013. Hundreds of members of the security forces have been killed.