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Iraqi PMU forces, not Syrian regime, liberated Bukamal, says top monitor

Iraqi members of the Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization units) are pictured in the city of al-Qaim, in Iraq's western Anbar province near the Syrian border as they fight against remnant pockets of Daesh group jihadists on November 3, 2017. (AFP / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE)
JEDDAH: Daesh has been expelled from the Syrian town of Bukamal, the last significant town the terror group still held in its disintegrating “caliphate,” a top monitor told Arab News on Thursday.
Rami Abdul Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor of the war, said Al-Hashd Al-Shaabi, widely known as Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), not the Syrian regime forces, had taken over the city.
The terrorists’ latest rout left them with only the dregs of a self-styled “state” that once spanned huge territory in Iraq and Syria, with surviving Daesh militants melting away into desert hideouts.
Anti-Daesh forces stormed into the town just across the border from Iraq on Wednesday and while fighting was initially reported as fierce, the outcome of one of Daesh’s last major battles was never in doubt.
Abdul Rahman termed the liberation of the city “the final scene of a movie on the destruction of Daesh in Syria.” The movie is coming to an end now, he added.
He said Daesh fighters do not have any arms now because they have lost many battles recently.
Asked about the future of US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), Abdul Rahman said that 38 percent of the Syrian territory is with the Assad regime or the PMU, 32 percent with the SDF or the US, and the remaining is under Daesh.
The observatory head said the country will ultimately be united although it is currently divided between Russian-backed and US-supported forces.
He said the future of Syria lies with Moscow and Washington.
Asked how long he thinks the war will continue, Abdul Rahman said: “Only Allah knows.”
The Syrian regime’s army earier said their armed forces units, in cooperation with allied and auxiliary forces, liberated the town in Deir Ezzor province.
Abdel Rahman said that “Daesh withdrew to desert areas in eastern Deir Ezzor” province, where they are likely to encounter US-backed Kurdish-led fighters.
A senior Iraqi Army commander told AFP that his forces shot dead four Daesh members who had tried to cross into Iraq, where the group holds the small town of Rawa, near the border.
In a separate development, UN humanitarian adviser Jan Egeland told Reuters that the 400,000 civilians besieged in the Syrian enclave of Eastern Ghouta face “complete catastrophe” because aid deliveries are blocked and hundreds of people need urgent medical evacuation.

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