SDF fighters close in on last Daesh-held village in Syria

Fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) attend the funeral of a comrade from the Kurdish women's protection units (YPJ), who was killed while fighting against the Daesh, in northeastern Syrian Kurdish-majority city of Qamishli on February 9, 2019.(AFP / Delil Souleiman)
Updated 11 February 2019
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SDF fighters close in on last Daesh-held village in Syria

  • The US-backed Syrian forces captured 41 positions held by Daesh group militants in overnight clashes
  • US-led coalition warplanes are giving cover to advancing SDF fighters

BEIRUT: US-backed Syrian forces captured 41 positions held by Daesh group militants and destroyed their fortifications in the last tiny pocket they hold in eastern Syria amid fierce fighting, a spokesman said Sunday.
Mustafa Bali said the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) made the advances overnight and on Sunday, hours after they launched a final push to clear the area from Daesh militants Saturday night.
The final battle to clear the village of Baghouz is now playing out after 20,000 civilians were evacuated from the area in the eastern province of Deir-el-Zour over the past few weeks.
Bali said heavy fighting was going on inside Baghouz on Sunday, adding that a Daesh counterattack was foiled early in the day. He did not say how long the battle was expected to last. US-led coalition warplanes are giving cover to advancing SDF fighters.
US President Donald Trump predicted Wednesday that the Daesh group will lose by next week all the territory it once controlled in Iraq and Syria.
That would mark the end of a four-year global war to end the extremist group’s territorial hold over large parts of Syria and Iraq where the group established its self-proclaimed “caliphate” in 2014.
US officials have said in recent weeks that Daesh has lost 99.5 percent of its territory and is holding onto fewer than 5 square kilometers in Syria, or less than 2 square miles, where the bulk of the fighters are concentrated. But activists and residents say Daesh still has sleeper cells in Syria and Iraq, and is laying the groundwork for an insurgency . The US military has warned the group could stage a comeback if the military and counter-terrorism pressure on it is eased.


US puts up $10m reward for Hezbollah information

Updated 23 April 2019
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US puts up $10m reward for Hezbollah information

  • The money is for anyone who provides intelligence that allows the US to disrupt Hezbollah in key ways

WASHINGTON: The US on Monday offered a $10 million reward for information that would disrupt the finances of Lebanon’s Shiite militant movement Hezbollah.
The State Department said it would give the money to anyone who provides intelligence that allows the US to disrupt Hezbollah in key ways.
The areas include information on Hezbollah’s donors, on financial institutions that assist its transactions and on businesses controlled by the movement.
President Donald Trump’s administration has put a top priority on reducing the influence of Iran, the primary backer of Hezbollah.
The State Department listed three alleged Hezbollah financiers as examples of activities it was seeking to stop, with one, Ali Youssef Charara, allegedly funding the group by investing millions of dollars from Hezbollah in the telecommunications industry in West Africa.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has pointed to a recent appeal by Hezbollah for donations as a sign of US success in curbing Iran.
On a visit last month to Beirut, Pompeo urged Lebanon to counter the “dark ambitions” of Iran and Hezbollah but was rebuffed by Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, who said Hezbollah was not a terrorist group and enjoyed a wide base.
The United States has vowed for decades to fight Shiite militants in Lebanon, with memories still bitter over the 1983 attack on a military barracks in Beirut that killed 241 Americans.
Hezbollah, however, also functions as a political party, with posts in the current cabinet, and enjoys support among some Lebanese who recall its guerrilla campaign that led Israel to withdraw from the country in 2000.