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.


Hezbollah names Beirut street after Rafiq Hariri assassin

Rafiq Hariri was assassinated in a blast in Beirut on Feb. 14, 2005. (AFP)
Updated 14 min 39 sec ago
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Hezbollah names Beirut street after Rafiq Hariri assassin

  • The decision to name the street after him was “unconstitutional” and “an unnecessary act of provocation,” a source at the Interior Ministry told Arab News

BEIRUT: Pro-Hezbollah politicians in south Beirut were accused of provocation on Tuesday for naming a street after the assassin who plotted the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.

To rub salt in the wound, the street is adjacent to the city’s Rafiq Hariri University Hospital. Hariri’s son, Prime Minister Saad Hariri, described the decision by Ghobeiry municipality as “sedition.” 

Hezbollah commander and bomb-maker Mustafa Badreddine was described last week by the prosecution at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon in The Hague as “the main conspirer” in the assassination of Hariri, who died when his motorcade was blown up in central Beirut in February 2005. Badreddine himself was murdered in Damascus in 2016.

The decision to name the street after him was “unconstitutional” and “an unnecessary act of provocation,” a source at the Interior Ministry told Arab News.

“There is no precedent for resorting to these methods in naming streets, especially when the name is the subject of political and sectarian dispute between the people of Lebanon and may pose a threat to security and public order.”

A Future Movement official said: “What has happened proves that Hezbollah has an absurd mentality. There are people in Lebanon who care about the country, and others who don’t. This group considers the murderers of Rafiq Hariri its heroes, but they are illusory heroes.”