20 killed as ISIS car bomb hits US-backed forces in Syria, • The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights

20 killed as ISIS car bomb hits US-backed forces in Syria,

A deadly car bombing claimed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group has hit US-backed forces in east Syria as they try to negotiate the release of civilians trapped in the Islamists’ last sliver of territory.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) is working towards evacuating civilians remaining in the holdout so that it can finish off the dying ISIS “caliphate”, whether through an assault or a surrender deal.

Some 2,000 people, mainly women and children, yesterday left the last area still under ISIS control in eastern Syria, a Kurdish official said.

“Around 2,000 people came out of the area and more are scheduled to leave later today,” commander Adnan Afrin of the US-allied SDF, said yesterday, without elaborating.

However, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitor, said the evacuees included ISIS fighters.

“On Thursday, there were 260 (Islamist) fighters refusing to surrender. But some of them came out today, reducing the number to around 150 fighters,” observatory head Rami Abdel-Rahman said yesterday.

Hundreds of civilians have been evacuated in the past few days from the village of Baghuz. In addition, hundreds of foreigners suspected of being ISIS fighters, as well as related women and children, are also being held by the SDF.

The ISIS terror group overran large parts of Syria and neighbouring Iraq in 2014, but several offensives have retaken all but half a square kilometre of territory.

The SDF command insists civilians, whom it says are being used as human shields by ISIS, leave the area before a final battle against the militant group in the area resumes.

As the SDF pressed the last ISIS diehards, a car bomb killed 14 oil workers and six of the Kurdish-led alliance’s conscripts near the Omar oilfield, which it uses as its main base in the region.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the blast on Telegram, saying its fighters had planted and detonated the explosive-laden car.

SDF spokesman Afrin said the explosion in a village some 100km north of Baghuz on Thursday was another example of ISIS cells attacking its fighters behind the front line. “This is what we’ve been talking about in the past… about sleeper cells trying to impede our progress in Baghuz,” he said.

Mr Paul Bradley, from the Free Burma Rangers volunteer group, said people fleeing painted a grim picture of life inside ISIS’ last scrap of territory.

“They showed us this bread that’s basically mashed-up wheat with water burnt on both sides, US$16 (S$21.65) a kilo,” he said.

On Thursday, an AFP reporter saw hundreds of people waiting in a screening area where the SDF has been questioning new arrivals in recent weeks, to separate suspected Islamists from the civilians.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Wednesday that negotiations were being held “for the surrender of the last IS fighters”, using an alternative acronym for ISIS.

It said there were “reports of a deal” but the details were unclear.

Meanwhile, the White House said on Thursday that the United States plans to leave a contingent of “peacekeeping” troops in Syria even after the withdrawal ordered by President Donald Trump.

“A small peacekeeping group of about 200 will remain in Syria for a period of time,” press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.

Neither Ms Sanders nor a spokesman for the US National Security Council gave details of where the American forces would be stationed or how long they expected to remain in Syria, which has been devastated by eight years of civil war.

Source: 20 killed as ISIS car bomb hits US-backed forces in Syria, Middle East News & Top Stories – The Straits Times

You might also like

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More