US-backed Syrian forces smash Daesh defenses in east

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Thursday that Daesh defenses “collapsed” in Hajjin as the town’s main market was captured. (File/AFP)
Updated 13 December 2018

US-backed Syrian forces smash Daesh defenses in east

  • Members of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces have been fighting to take the town of Hajjin and nearby villages in Syria’s eastern province of Deir Ezzor since Sept. 10
  • The Observatory says SDF fighters were able to evacuate some 600 civilians, many of them women and children, out of Daesh-held areas

BEIRUT: Kurdish-led forces on Thursday moved deep into Hajjin, the main village in the last pocket still held by the Daesh group in eastern Syria, a war monitor said.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), with support from airstrikes conducted by the US-led coalition, deployed across the Euphrates Valley village.

“The SDF managed to break the defenses of the Daesh group after massing a large number of fighters backed by the international coalition,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

“They achieved quick progress inside Hajjin, the largest of the villages that were controlled by IS,” Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the Britain-based monitoring organization, said.

The SDF said on social media they had “liberated the city center of Hajjin and the big mosque.”

Hajjin lies on the east bank of the Euphrates in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor, about 30 kilometers (18 miles) from the border with Iraq.

The area held by IS is sometimes referred to as the “Hajjin pocket,” the last rump of a once-sprawling “caliphate” the group proclaimed in 2014 over parts of Syria and Iraq.

Obstacles

The SDF Kurdish-Arab alliance launched an operation in September to flush out Daesh but their advance has been fraught with obstacles.

The push to retake Hajjin was delayed by Turkish threats on Kurdish heartlands further north and deadly counter-attacks by die-hard jihadists making a bloody last stand.

“Now Daesh is confined to tunnels and to the edges of town,” Abdel Rahman said.

“Fighting on the group and air strikes are continuing. The mines planted by the jihadists are the main remaining obstacle,” he said.

No casualty toll was immediately available for the latest fighting but according to the Observatory close to 500 SDF fighters have been killed since the start of the operation on September 10.

Around 300 civilians have also been killed, many of them in coalition air strikes, and thousands have been forced to flee their homes.

 


Egypt reports 86 new coronavirus cases, 22 recoveries

Updated 03 April 2020

Egypt reports 86 new coronavirus cases, 22 recoveries

  • The number of cases in the country has reached 865, including 201 recovered patients and 58 deaths

DUBAI: Egypt has reported 86 new coronavirus cases, all of whom were linked to travel or were in contact with virus patients, Saudi Press Agency reported on Thursday.
The country also confirmed 22 new recoveries, including a German national and 21 Egyptian citizens, the spokesperson of the health ministry said in a statement.
The number of cases in the country has reached 865, including 201 recovered patients and 58 deaths.