Daesh repels US-backed forces from east Syria holdout

The SDF retreated from Hajjin on the Iraqi border around seven weeks after it launched an anti-Daesh offensive backed by the US-led coalition. (File/AFP)
Updated 28 October 2018
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Daesh repels US-backed forces from east Syria holdout

  • The SDF retreated from Hajjin on the Iraqi border around seven weeks after it launched an anti-Daesh offensive backed by the US-led coalition

BEIRUT: Daesh has ousted a US-backed coalition of Kurdish and Arab forces from its holdout in eastern Syria, killing dozens of fighters, a monitoring group said Sunday.
A Syrian Democratic Forces commander, asking not to be named, confirmed the SDF retreat from the Hajin pocket near the Iraqi border seven weeks into an offensive.
The SDF, who are backed by air strikes of the US-led coalition, launched its campaign to retake the Daesh holdout on September 10.
But they have faced a fierce fightback from the extremists, including under the cover of sandstorms, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says.
"In counterattacks since Friday to Sunday dawn, Daesh has taken back all positions to which the SDF had advanced inside the Hajin pocket," the monitoring group's chief Rami Abdel Rahman said.
The Observatory reported 72 SDF fighters killed, as Daesh took advantage of the storm that hampered coalition air cover and dispatched suicide bombers as part of their fightback.
The SDF commander told AFP that his forces had faced a "strong dust storm" and lacked local knowledge of the terrain.
Unlike Daesh, "our forces don't know the area and can't move around in conditions of zero visibility," he said.
"Military reinforcements and heavy weapons have been sent to the front and some units will be replaced by more experienced ones," the commander said.
"We will launch a new military campaign as soon as those reinforcements have arrived," he said.
More than 300 SDF fighters and around 500 Daesh extremists have been killed in the past seven weeks of fighting, the Observatory says.
The coalition estimates that 2,000 Daesh fighters remain in the Hajin area.
Daesh overran large swathes of Syria and neighbouring Iraq in 2014, proclaiming a "caliphate" across land it controlled.
But the extremist group has since lost most of that territory to various offensives in both countries.
In Syria, its presence has been reduced to parts of the vast Badia desert also in the east and the Hajin pocket.
A total of more than 360,000 people have been killed since Syria's war erupted in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.


Egypt to host African summits Tuesday on Sudan, Libya

Updated 22 April 2019
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Egypt to host African summits Tuesday on Sudan, Libya

  • The leaders will focus on “the evolution of the situation in Sudan” where protests continue after the military toppled president Omar Al-Bashir
  • The planned summits are the first to be convened by African leaders on the current crises in Sudan and Libya

CAIRO: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi will lead two emergency summits with other African leaders on Tuesday to address events in Sudan and Libya, his presidency said.
The leaders will focus on “the evolution of the situation in Sudan” where protests continue after the military toppled president Omar Al-Bashir.
They will also seek to “stem the current crisis” in Libya, where commander Khalifa Haftar is leading an offensive on Tripoli, Egypt’s presidency said in a statement.
El-Sisi is also the current president of the African Union.
He will receive the Chadian president Idriss Deby, Rwanda’s head of state Paul Kagame, Congo’s Denis Sassou-Nguesso, Somalia’s Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed and South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa as well as Dijbouti’s leader Ismail Omar Guelleh.
The planned summits are the first to be convened by African leaders on the current crises in Sudan and Libya.
For Sudan, the objective “is to discuss ... the most appropriate ways to address the evolution of the situation and to contribute to stability and peace,” Egypt’s presidency said.
The AU on April 15 threatened to suspend Sudan if the military does not hand over power within 15 days of that date to a civilian authority.
President of the African Union commission Moussa Faki is also expected to participate in the discussions, along with officials from Ethiopia, South Sudan, Uganda, Kenya and Nigeria.
Another summit on Libya, which will bring together the leaders of Rwanda, South Africa and the Congo with El-Sisi, will focus on “relaunching a political process... (and) the elimination of terrorism,” Egypt’s presidency said.
Strongman Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army launched an offensive against Tripoli, the seat of the internationally recognized Government of National Accord, on April 4.
Egypt is a strong ally of Haftar, who is also backed by the UAE and — according to the White House — was consulted by US President Donald Trump in a phone call last week.