Daesh suicide bombers thwarted in last-stand battle for Baghouz: SDF

Baghouz is the last shred of populated territory held by Daesh, and the Syrian Democratic Forces has laid siege to Baghouz for weeks. (AP)
Updated 13 March 2019
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Daesh suicide bombers thwarted in last-stand battle for Baghouz: SDF

  • The Syrian Democratic Forces on Tuesday said the battle for Baghouz was as good as over
  • The enclave is the last shred of populated territory held by the militants

DEIR EZZOR, Syria: The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces said it thwarted an attempted Daesh group suicide bomb attack early on Wednesday during a last-stand battle for the militant group’s final enclave.
The SDF on Tuesday said the battle for Baghouz, a collection of hamlets and farmland near the Iraqi border, was as good as over.
The enclave is the last shred of populated territory held by the militants who have been driven from roughly one third of Iraq and Syria over the past four years.
Mustafa Bali, a spokesman for the SDF media office, said its forces had been bombarding Baghouz heavily overnight before engaging in direct clashes with Daesh fighters from 4 a.m. to 6 a.m.
Live footage broadcast by the Kurdish Ronahi TV overnight showed a series of large explosions lighting up the night sky over Baghouz.
“There were suicide vest attacks by a group of bombers who tried to blow themselves up amidst our forces. Our forces targeted and killed them before they reached our positions,” Bali said.
The SDF has laid siege to Baghouz for weeks but had repeatedly postponed its final assault to allow thousands of civilians, many of them wives and children of Daesh fighters, to leave. It resumed the attack on Sunday.
Around 3,000 fighters and their families surrendered to SDF forces in 24 hours, Bali said overnight. Three women and four children belonging to the Yazidi sect, a minority group who were kidnapped and enslaved by Daesh in 2014, were also freed, he said.
While Baghouz is the last populated territory of what was once the group’s self-proclaimed “caliphate,” fighters still operate in remote areas elsewhere.
The group put out a new propaganda video overnight Monday filmed in recent weeks inside Baghouz, insisting on its claim to leadership of all Muslims and calling on its supporters to keep the faith.
“Tomorrow, God willing, we will be in paradise and they will be burning in hell,” one of the men interviewed in the video said.


Israeli forces kill Palestinian suspected of deadly attack in West Bank

Updated 10 min 24 sec ago
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Israeli forces kill Palestinian suspected of deadly attack in West Bank

  • The assailant was killed after he opened fire at Israeli forces who had come to arrest him, the Shin Bet said
  • The Palestinian health ministry said two more Palestinians were shot dead by Israeli soldiers near Nablus

JERUSALEM: Israeli forces on Tuesday killed a Palestinian suspected of carrying out a deadly stabbing and shooting attack in the occupied West Bank two days earlier, the Israeli Shin Bet security service said.
The assailant was killed after he opened fire at Israeli forces who had come to arrest him, the Shin Bet said. The Palestinian health ministry confirmed a person had been killed in the clash, but provided no further details.
In what appeared to be a separate incident, the Palestinian health ministry said two more Palestinians were shot dead by Israeli soldiers near the West Bank city of Nablus. An Israeli army spokeswoman said the report was being looked into.
On Sunday, a suspected Palestinian assailant fatally stabbed a soldier at an intersection on a busy West Bank highway and opened fire at the scene using the conscript’s rifle, killing an Israeli rabbi and wounding a second soldier.
Palestinians, many of them people without links to armed groups, carried out a wave of attacks in the West Bank in late 2015 and 2016 but the frequency of such incidents has since decreased.
Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Middle East war. Palestinians seek to establish a state there and in the Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital. Israeli-Palestinian peace talks collapsed in 2014.