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SDF Puts an End to IS in East of Euphrates

The flag of the “Syrian Democratic Forces” raised in the last strongholds of the “Islamic State” in al-Baghuz, east of the Euphrates – March 23, 2019 (Photographer Mohammed Hassan)

The flag of the “Syrian Democratic Forces” raised in the last strongholds of the “Islamic State” in al-Baghuz, east of the Euphrates – March 23, 2019 (Photographer Mohammed Hassan)

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In the town of al-Baghuz, the “Syrian Democratic Forces” (SDF) raised its flag, announcing its victory over the “Islamic State” (IS) and eliminating its influence in the last of its enclaves in the east of Euphrates, backed by the US-led coalition.

 

In an official ceremony, accompanied by a military parade, the General Command of SDF made a statement about its ultimate victory over IS in the east of the Euphrates, in the presence of Mazloum Abddi, the general commander, officials of the Autonomous Administration, representatives of the political parties and heads of the area’s tribes, in addition to William Roebuck, the special convoy of the US-led coalition.

 

The latest military operations, undertaken by SDF, are part of Operation “al-Jazira Storm”, which started its last stages in the east of the Euphrates in September 2018, with the sole goal of eliminating the influence of IS.

 

Declaration of Victory

 

On March 23, at the onset of the battles’ end, Mustafa Bali, SDF’s media spokesperson, posted the following on Twitter: “al-Baghuz is liberated, and the military victory over IS is realized. […] We, hereby, carry the world the good news of the disappearance of the alleged state of the Caliphate.”

 

In the official statement, Mazloum Abddi, the general commander, said: “In the name of the General Command of the Syrian Democratic Forces, its men and women fighters, and on behalf of our allies who fought beside us in the same ditch, today we announce the destruction of the so-called Islamic State and ending its influence in the last of its enclaves in the al-Baghuz area.”

 

Abddi added that vanquishing IS was costly, for during the action 11 thousand SDF fighters lost their lives and more than 21 thousand had various injuries, which is the final toll in the ranks of the Kurdish forces, pointing out that about five million persons were rescued from the “clutches of terror” and up to 52 thousand square kilometers of Syrian territory was liberated, “[where] the danger posed to humanity was terminated,” as he put it.

 

SDF’s General Commander called allies to provide further support for combating IS cells, as to entirely annihilate its presence, indicating that the key factor that led to vanquishing IS is its forces’ resorting to “democracy, the principles of the nation and coexistence.”

 

The Caliphate ended in Syria, Trump

 

On Friday, March 22, prior to the declaration of the ultimate victory, President Donald Trump said that IS has been “100% defeated in Syria,” showing reporters maps of the area, one of which indicating the massive territories once controlled by IS, and another showing the current state.

However, IS is yet fortified in an enclave between the two governorates of Homs and Deir ez-Zor, stretching from the perimeter of the area of al-Sukhnah as far as the borders of the tow cities of Abu Kamal and Mayadin, as the field map shows, making small and separate enclaves of these areas, while its attacks against the Assad’s forces along the Syrian desert are rapid and swift.

A map showing IS’ enclaves in areas in the west of the Euphrates, Syria – March 24, 2019 (Livemap)

A map showing IS’ enclaves in areas in the west of the Euphrates, Syria – March 24, 2019 (Livemap)

The past three weeks bore witness to SDF’s violent attacks, launched in the town of al-Baghuz where IS is fortified, supported by the US-led coalitions’ aerial raids on the area, due to which hundreds of IS militants gave themselves in.

 

For its part, IS did not comment on SDF’s latest statement concerning the end of its influence in the east of the Euphrates, but it intensified its attacks in the past two weeks, announcing the death and the injury of dozens of militants in separate operations, in addition to video reports, published by IS-affiliated agency Amaaq last Thursday, which presented the confrontations going on in the al-Baghuz.

 

On March 12, IS released a video titled “The Essence of Steadfastness from al-Baghuz,” in which it implicitly confessed its approaching decline in the east of the Euphrates, with the voice commentary done by “Abu al-Hassan al-Muhajer,” the official spokesperson.

 

Civilians Massacred?

 

Throughout months of military operations, called the “al-Jazira Storm,” SDF and the US-led coalition faced accusations of killing hundreds of civilians in the missile and aerial raids that targeted IS-held areas.

 

Last week, posted onto social networking sites, photos went viral, including those by Deir ez-Zor 24, of dozens of dead bodies charred in the al-Baghuz camp, to the east of Deir ez-Zor, in the time where SDF was announcing progress within the area, backed by the US-led coalition’s aerial coverage.

 

In a report, issued on March 20, the Syrian Network for Human Rights said that the US-led coalition is responsible for the death of 3035 civilians in Syria, of whom 924 are children and 656 are women, speaking of the period from August 2014 to early in March 2019, who lost their lives in the latter’s war against IS.

 

In 2017, the highest number of civilians were killed by the US-led coalition, according to the report, for the death toll has amounted to 1753 civilians, given 2017 was a witness to the massive attacks that the US-led coalition launched and which resulted in repelling IS from the city of Raqqa, considered the capital of the Caliphate.

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