Kurd-led forces overrun last Daesh-held village in Syria: monitor

The operation was part of a broader offensive started by the Syrian Democratic Forces in September. Above, US army vehicles support the SDF in Deir Ezzor. (AFP)
Updated 23 January 2019
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Kurd-led forces overrun last Daesh-held village in Syria: monitor

  • Search operations in the village continue to look for any Daesh members who might be hiding
  • Almost 1,800 extremists have surrendered since December

BEIRUT: Kurdish-led fighters overran the last village held by the Daesh group in Syria on Wednesday, confining its once vast cross-border “caliphate” to two small hamlets, a war monitor said.
It is the culmination of a broad offensive launched by the Syrian Democratic Forces last September with US-led coalition support in which they have reduced the extremists’ last enclave on the north bank of the Euphrates valley near the Iraqi border to a tiny rump.
The capture of the village of Baghouz leaves the few remaining diehard Daesh fighters holed up in scattered homesteads among the irrigated fields and orchards on the north bank of the Euphrates Valley.
“Search operations are continuing in Baghouz to find any Daesh fighters who are still hiding,” the head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.
“The SDF will now have to push on into the farmland around Baghouz.”
“Around 4,900 people, mostly women and children but including 470 Daesh fighters, have fled the extremists’ fast dwindling enclave since Monday, Abdel Rahman said late on Tuesday.
Of those 3,500 surrendered to the advancing SDF on Tuesday alone.
They were evacuated on dozens of trucks chartered by the SDF.
The fall of Baghouz follows the SDF’s capture of the enclave’s sole town of Hajjin and the villages of Al-Shaafa and Sousa in recent weeks.
The new wave of departures means that nearly 27,000 people have left former Daesh areas since early December, including almost 1,800 extremists who have surrendered, the Observatory said.
The whereabouts of the ultra-elusive Daesh supremo Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, who has made just once public appearance — in Iraq’s then Daesh-held second city Mosul in 2014 — are unknown.
It is a far cry from the extremists’ peak in 2014, when they overran large parts of Syria and neighboring Iraq and Baghdadi proclaimed a “caliphate” in areas under their control.
The gains have come at the cost of heavy losses for the mainly Kurdish fighters of the SDF and despite their sense of betrayal by their US ally after President Donald Trump made the surprise announcement last month that Washington would withdraw all its troops.
Neighboring Turkey has threatened repeatedly to launch a cross-border operation to crush the Kurdish fighters of the SDF and the autonomous region they have set up in areas of northern and northeastern Syria under their control.
Turkish troops had been held at bay by the intervention of US troops who set up observation posts along the border and mounted joint patrols with Kurdish fighters.
But with those troops gone, the Kurds fear they will be exposed to the full might of the Turkish military.


Detainee allegedly tortured in Sudan dies: doctors

Updated 15 min 10 sec ago
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Detainee allegedly tortured in Sudan dies: doctors

  • The man died on Saturday in the town of Dilling in the state of South Kordofan after he was detained by agents of the feared National Intelligence and Security Service
  • It was NISS that led a sweeping crackdown on protests against Bashir’s rule that first erupted in December

KHARTOUM: A Sudanese civilian detained and allegedly tortured by security agents in a central town has died in custody, a doctors committee linked to the country’s protest movement said Sunday.
The man died on Saturday in the town of Dilling in the state of South Kordofan after he was detained by agents of the feared National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), the doctors committee said in a statement.
The detainee “passed away on July 20, 2019 from torture while in detention at the NISS office in Dilling,” the statement said without elaborating on the circumstances of his arrest.
“NISS continues to torture and claim innocent civilian lives illegally without facing any consequences.”
Officers of NISS were not immediately available for comment.
Rights groups and activists had regularly accused NISS agents of cracking down on dissidents and restricting freedoms during the regime of veteran leader Omar Al-Bashir who was ousted in April.
It was NISS that led a sweeping crackdown on protests against Bashir’s rule that first erupted in December.
Dozens were killed and hundreds of protesters, activists and opposition leaders were arrested during the months-long campaign that led to Bashir’s overthrow and subsequent demonstrations calling for civilian rule.
Last week a power-sharing deal was inked between the protest leaders and the ruling generals who seized power after ousting Bashir.
More talks between the two sides to thrash out some pending issues have been suspended following differences within the protest movement itself over the power-sharing deal.