Hardened, mostly foreign Daesh fighters take final stand at last Syrian enclave

Smokes rises from a makeshift camp for Daesh and their families in Baghouz, the last enclave of the most hardened militants in Syria. (AFP)
Updated 10 March 2019
0

Hardened, mostly foreign Daesh fighters take final stand at last Syrian enclave

  • The fighters staying put through waves of evacuations are the most hardened foreign militants
  • A no-man’s land of about 200 meters separates SDF positions from the Daesh frontline at Baghouz

BAGHOUZ, Syria: Armed with assault rifles and with faces wrapped in scarves, the Daesh fighters visible at the boundary of their last enclave in eastern Syria are among the hardened militants who appear ready to fight to the death.
Thousands of people — many of them the wives of Daesh fighters and their children — have been streaming out of the besieged enclave at Baghouz for weeks, forcing the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to delay an assault on the last vestige of the militants’ territorial rule.
Reuters TV footage of the Daesh-controlled frontline shows armed militants, most with only their eyes visible, supervising the evacuations from a scrubby patch of agricultural land scattered with vehicles and a few buildings.
The SDF has said the fighters staying put through waves of evacuations are the most hardened foreign militants, wanted by governments around the world, who are likely to fight to the death.
On Saturday, a Reuters witness saw dozens of mostly men cross from Daesh territory into SDF-controlled lines. The SDF said these were wounded Daesh fighters.
A few women in full face-covering black robes and children carrying bags could be seen among the people milling at the frontline. A man on crutches was also visible.
A no-man’s land of about 200 meters separates SDF positions from the Daesh frontline at Baghouz, a collection of hamlets and farmland near the border with Iraq.
Evacuees are screened by the SDF as they emerge and are sent north to the Al-Hol camp, already overcrowded with uprooted Syrians and Iraqis from years of war and struggling to cope with the influx.
After suddenly seizing swathes of land straddling the Iraqi-Syrian border in 2014 and declaring it their caliphate, Daesh was beaten back by numerous local and foreign forces in both countries, suffering major defeats in 2017.
However, the militants remain a threat. In Iraq they have gone to ground, staging waves of killings and kidnappings. In Syria, their comrades hold out in remote desert areas and have carried out bombings in areas controlled by the SDF.


Iranian FM meets Iraqi PM as part of regional tour

Updated 22 sec ago
0

Iranian FM meets Iraqi PM as part of regional tour

  • During his his two-day visit, Zarif will also meet the Iraqi president and Iraqi prime minister
  • Discussions will mainly focus on the current crisis and its impacts on the two countries

BAGHDAD: Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdulmahdi met with the Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif who arrived in Baghdad on Saturday.

Abdulmahdi and Zarif have agreed on the importance of the stability of the region and how to revive the US-Iran nuclear deal to maintain the interests of the two countries and the region.

Zarif earlier on in the day held talks with his Iraqi counterpart.

The two sides have discussed the bilateral relationships and the latest regional developments and the impacts of the US imposed sanctions on Iran and the region.

During his his two-day visit, Zarif will also meet the Iraqi president. On Sunday morning, Zarif will meet several senior politicians before he heads to Najaf to meet some clerics, sources told Arab News.

The discussions will mainly focus on the current crisis and its impacts on the two countries in addition to possible options to reinforce the attempts to start dialogues with the related sides to reach a compromise or solutions for the current standoff between Iran and US.

The Iranian official will leave Iraq on Monday. Zarif's tour also includes trips to Turkey, India and Pakistan.

Meanwhile, Iran's deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi will begin a separate tour on Sunday which will see him visit Qatar, Oman and Kuwait, according to Iranian news sources.