US Defense Chief: 'Significant Progress' Against Islamic State in Syria

12 February, 2019, 03:07 | Author: Donnie King
  • Islamic State chief escapes death as his fighters turn on him: report

Fierce fighting was underway Monday between US -backed Syrian forces and the Islamic State group around the extremists' last foothold in eastern Syria, with the besieged militants fighting back with suicide vehicle bombs, snipers and booby traps, a Syrian war monitor and a Kurdish news agency said.

Eight women and one elderly man were also among the civilians killed while trying to flee towards the Iraqi border, said Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The tiny hamlet of Baghouz in northern Syria was the scene of intense fighting for the third day on Monday, as US-backed Syrian forces advanced on the final ISIS-held pocket in the country.

As many as 600 militants may still remain inside the area, a lot of them foreigners, Bali said.

President Donald Trump, who is planning to pull USA forces out of Syria, said on Wednesday he expected a formal announcement as early as this week that the coalition had reclaimed all the territory previously held by ISIL.

With the end of combat operations in sight, the United States is just weeks away from withdrawing its troops from Syria, the top United States commander overseeing American forces in the Middle East said on Sunday.

A Pentagon report released earlier this month indicated that ISIS would likely regain territory within six to 12 months as a result of Trump's decision to pull out from Syria.

"Moreover, we have the SDF and local security forces that can achieve final security in the region", he concluded. Asked whether the withdrawal of America's more than 2,000 troops would begin in days or weeks, Votel said: "Probably weeks".

A battle has been going on for hours, with US-led coalition air strikes and artillery fire pounding IS positions.




The SDF, backed by US -led coalition airstrikes, is fighting IS in a 4-square-kilometer area that includes Baghuz and is near the Iraqi border.

"There are fears over the lives of thousands of civilians who are stranded in the pocket", said Mr Abdel-Rahman.

ISIL still retains a presence in Syria's vast Badia desert and has claimed a series of deadly attacks by sleeper cells in SDF-held areas.

An SDF field commander told AFP news agency on Sunday morning: "There are heavy clashes at the moment".

But a top USA general said on Tuesday the group would pose an enduring threat following the US withdrawal, as it retained leaders, fighters, facilitators and resources that would fuel a menacing insurgency.

The displaced residents, mostly women and children, have been placed in the Kurdish al-Hol camp in al-Hasakah governorate, in northeast Syria.

A senior military official from the SDF said that other members of IS's foreign legion had joined the fight against Baghdadi, including some Algerians and Moroccans.

He said that when the SDF detects movement from IS fighters, they bomb them, but added: "There have not been any major changes".

Recommended:



Popular

Kylie Jenner throws epic 'Stormiworld' party for daughter's first birthday
While Jenner has repeatedly showed off big bling and thin diamond bands on her ring finger, KarJenner family matriarch Kris Jenner insists the two didn't secretly marry.

Former Jets QB Christian Hackenberg Fizzles in Profanity Laden AAF Debut
What's more, the AAF uses a recruitment model created to attract players to their teams who are already popular in home markets. It's not Christian Hackenberg's fault that the Jets took him in the second round of the 2016 National Football League draft.

PSG's Cavani doubtful for Man United game
His absence against United would be a concern for the French champions, with strike partner Neymar already sidelined by a metatarsal injury.

Turkey, others to press for UN probe into Khashoggi killing
Al-Jubeir affirmed that the operation wasn't authorized, highlighting "no order was given to conduct this operation". If true, the threat by the crown prince is a significant indication Khashoggi had become a preoccupying irritant.

Trump is in ‘very good health’, says White House doctor
Conley said Trump did not undergo any procedures requiring sedation or anesthesia, meaning he did not have a colonoscopy. Last year's examination revealed that President Trump has a common form of heart disease, as well as high cholesterol.

Suarez pushing for Arsenal start after impressing Emery
But that result came directly after defeat to West Ham and the Gunners lost their most recent outing 3-1 to Manchester City .

Warnings revised as Storm Erik batters parts of UK
Elsewhere, a flight heading for Gatwick airport has had divert to Manchester after two failed attempts to land during high winds. Winds are expected to ease off by Sunday. "We're looking at winds of 50 to 60mph in Northern Ireland and the west of Scotland ".

Acting Attorney General Whitaker battles angry lawmakers at hearing
The vote doesn't issue a subpoena to Whitaker but allows committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler to do so if Whitaker is uncooperative. There was some curious timing regarding a letter from Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker to the House Judiciary Committee .

LeBron James makes retirement claim hours before Lakers trade deadline
Team Giannis, in addition to Antetokounmpo, will start Stephen Curry, Joel Embiid, Paul George and hometown favorite Kemba Walker. A quietly great part of the clip is Antetokounmpo murmuring "oh wow" to himself after James makes the pick.

Coutinho: Real Madrid could play role in Barcelona departure
Telegraph Sport understands Hazard has not told Chelsea of his plans, but talks over a new contract have not progressed. Rumors have surrounded the Belgian star for months, strongly linking him to La Liga power Real Madrid .