US-backed forces storm Daesh-held village in east Syria

Members of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are pictured in the village of Susah in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor, near the Syrian border with Iraq on September 13, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 15 September 2018
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US-backed forces storm Daesh-held village in east Syria

  • The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces said its fighters stormed Bagouz and are close to the center of the village.
  • The forces have been among the most effective in the fight against Daesh in Syria.

BEIRUT: US-backed Syrian forces entered Saturday an eastern village held by Daesh where intense clashes are ongoing a day after the extremists reportedly killed 20 fighters, the forces and a war monitor said.
The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces said its fighters stormed Bagouz and are close to the center of the village. The forces added that they plan to open another front in the Sousseh area along the Euphrates river to increase pressure on the extremists.
SDF launched with the help of the US-led coalition a wide offensive this week to capture the last pocket held by Daesh in Syria. The Kurdish-led forces have been among the most effective in the fight against Daesh in Syria, forcing them out of much of the country’s east.
Despite losing most of the territory it held between Iraq and Syria since its peak in 2014, the extremist group remains a disruptive force in both countries. Its leader, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, urged his followers to “persevere” in an audio tape attributed to him last month.
The Daesh-linked Aamaq news agency said the group’s gunmen targeted advancing SDF fighters in the Bagouz area with mortar rounds, roadside bombs and sniper fire inflicting many casualties among them.
The SDF commander of the operation in Bagouz, who identified himself as Shergo, said in a video statement that the fighting is intense from both sides and that his fighters now control almost half of the village.
“We will take all this place from ISIS,” Shergo said in English.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Daesh fighters are relying on a network of tunnels in the area and land mines to slow down SDF’s offensive. It said that some 100 women and 30 men, including Daesh fighters, along with their children, surrendered to SDF fighters. The Daesh gunmen were taken to a tightly secured position in the area, it added.
The storming of Bagouz came a day after the Observatory and a Kurdish official said Daesh gunmen killed 20 SDF fighters in the country’s east.
The Observatory said the extremists took advantage of a sand storm to launch a counterattack, which killed 20 fighters and wounded others.
Kurdish official Ebrahim Ebrahim said the 20 fighters were killed in an ambush by Daesh fighters.
SDF said in a statement that only two of its fighters were killed and six others wounded in Friday’s clashes.
The Observatory said Saturday that since SDF launched its offensive on the Daesh-held pocket, including the town of Hajjin, 53 extremists have been killed as well as 38 US-backed fighters.
The Observatory said SDF brought in Friday some 1,000 fighters to fortify its positions and boost the forces carrying out the offensive.


Anti-Daesh coalition raids kill 43 in east Syria: monitor

Updated 17 November 2018
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Anti-Daesh coalition raids kill 43 in east Syria: monitor

  • Seventeen children were among 36 Daesh family members killed in Abu Husn village of Deir Ezzor province near the Iraqi border
  • Another seven victims had not yet been identified as either civilians or Daesh fighters

BEIRUT: Air strikes by the US-led coalition Saturday killed 43 people, mostly civilians, in a Daesh holdout in eastern Syria, a Britain-based monitor said.
Seventeen children were among 36 Daesh family members killed in Abu Husn village of Deir Ezzor province near the Iraqi border, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Another seven victims had not yet been identified as either civilians or Daesh fighters, it said.
The US-led coalition has been backing a Kurdish-Arab alliance called the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighting to expel the extremists from the pocket around Abu Husn.
"It's the highest death toll in coalition air strikes since the SDF launched its attack against the IS pocket" in September, Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said.
The coalition has repeatedly said it does its utmost to prevent civilian casualties.
"The avoidance of civilian casualties is our highest priority when conducting strikes against legitimate military targets with precision munitions," spokesman Sean Ryan told AFP this week.
Daesh overran large swathes of Syria and neighbouring Iraq in 2014, proclaiming a "caliphate" in land it controlled.
But the militant group has since lost most of it to various offensives in both countries.
In Syria, the group has seen its presence reduced to parts of the vast Badia desert and the pocket in Deir Ezzor.
The coalition has since 2014 acknowledged direct responsibility for over 1,100 civilian deaths in Syria and Iraq, but rights groups put the number killed much higher.