US-backed fighters say operation at last Daesh enclave not over

The Syrian Democratic Forces have been battling with Daesh fighters in the last weeks. (File/AFP)
Updated 24 March 2019

US-backed fighters say operation at last Daesh enclave not over

  • The SDF has denied the claims made by Syrian Kurdish news outlet Hawar

DEIR AL-ZOR, Syria: US-backed Syrian fighters said they were still searching territory captured from Daesh at its final enclave in eastern Syria on Thursday and denied a report the jihadists had been finally defeated.
The final capture of the Baghouz enclave at the Iraqi border will mark the end of Daesh territorial rule that once spanned a third of Syria and Iraq after years of military campaigns by a range of international and local forces.
After weeks of fighting, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) took a big step toward capturing the besieged area on Tuesday when they seized an encampment where the militants had been mounting a last defense of the area.
“Combing continues in the Baghouz camp,” an SDF media official said, citing commanders of the operation on Thursday, after the Syrian Kurdish news outlet Hawar reported that the entire enclave had been captured and IS defeated.
“There is no truth (to the report of) the complete liberation of the village,” the official said.
The report on Hawar News, which is close to the Kurdish-led administration that runs much of northern Syria, was later removed from its website.
US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that a “tiny spot” of remaining Daesh territory would be “gone by tonight.”
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, whose country has participated in the campaign, said on Wednesday he expected the announcement of the “final territorial defeat” to be made in the “next few days.”
Though the defeat of Daesh at Baghouz ends its grip over territory, it remains a threat, with fighters operating in remote territory elsewhere and capable of mounting insurgent attacks.
The US military has warned that Daesh may still count tens of thousands of fighters, dispersed throughout Iraq and Syria, with enough leaders and resources to present a menacing insurgency.
The Pentagon’s internal watchdog released a report last month saying Daesh remained an active insurgent group and was regenerating functions and capabilities more quickly in Iraq than in Syria.
It warned the group could resurge in Syria within six to 12 months and regain limited territory without sustained pressure.
The US believes Iraq is the location of its leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, who stood at the pulpit of the great medieval mosque in Mosul in 2014 to declare himself caliph, sovereign over all Muslims.


Sudan’s deposed Bashir questioned over 1989 coup: lawyer

Updated 10 December 2019

Sudan’s deposed Bashir questioned over 1989 coup: lawyer

KHARTOUM: Sudan’s former president Omar Al-Bashir appeared on Tuesday before a prosecutors’ committee over the 1989 coup that brought him to power, his lawyer said.
Bashir was “brought to be investigated in the case of the alleged 1989 coup,” said his lawyer, Mohamed Al-Hassan, who did not attend the hearing.
The lawyer also told reporters that in his view the hearing was “not a judicial matter, it’s a political matter.”
In 1989, Bashir, a brigadier at the time, seized power in an Islamist-backed coup that toppled the elected government of prime minister Sadiq Al-Mahdi.
The former president was himself ousted by the army in April of this year after months of nationwide protests against his iron-fisted rule of three decades.
On November 12, Sudanese authorities filed charges against Bashir and some of his aides for “plotting” the 1989 coup. The prosecution established a special committee for the case.
If found guilty, he could face the death penalty or life imprisonment under Sudanese law.
Sudan is now ruled by a joint civilian and military sovereign council, which is tasked with overseeing a transition to civilian rule as demanded by the protest movement.
Bashir is being held in Kober prison in a separate case, for which he has been on trial since August, on charges of illegally acquiring and using foreign funds.
A verdict is due in that case on Saturday.
On Tuesday, Bashir was taken from Kober prison to the prosecutor’s office in a convoy under strong armed protection.
After the hearing, which lasted about an hour, a crowd gathered in front of the prosecutor’s office, chanting “Kober prison — the best place for you!” and “you killed people!“
Wearing the traditional white Sudanese jalabiya and turban, Bashir raised his hands to the crowd, before he set off back toward Kober in the convoy.
The veteran leader is also wanted by The Hague-based International Criminal Court on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity over his role in the war in Sudan’s western Darfur region.
To date, Sudanese transitional authorities do not want to extradite the former leader to The Hague.