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Daesh attack kills 15 US-backed fighters in eastern Syria: activist group

Local | 2018-11-04 15:01:00
Daesh attack kills 15 US-backed fighters in eastern Syria: activist group
Daesh (ISIS) killed 15 U.S.-backed fighters in a surprise attack Sunday from the militants' holdout in eastern Syria on the Iraqi border, activists and monitoring group said.

Twelve fighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) were killed and 20 wounded in a suicide car bombing and subsequent clashes in the eastern province of Deir al-Zor, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

An SDF spokesman, however, denied any members of his Kurdish-led alliance had been killed.

"There are counter-attacks every day and the clashes are ongoing, but the talk of martyrs among our ranks is not true," Mustefa Bali said.

According to Observatory chief Rami Abdel-Rahman, Sunday's attack "started with a car bomb driven by a suicide attacker against an SDF position between Hajin and Al-Bahra."

The attack allowed Daesh to advance towards Al-Bahra from its holdout around Hajin, and push back the first lines of defense of the SDF, which is backed by the U.S.-led coalition, the Observatory said.

The activist group said 14 civilians and nine Daesh militants were killed Saturday in coalition airstrikes in Hajin and the nearby towns of Sousa and Al-Shaafa.

A coalition spokesman said those strikes targeted Daesh positions.

"The strikes killed Islamic State terrorists and destroyed three operational facilities critical to Islamic State's operations," Sean Ryan told AFP.

The SDF, with the support of coalition airstrikes, in September launched an offensive to wrest the Deir al-Zor pocket including Hajin from Daesh, making slow advances.

But the alliance suffered a major setback as they retreated last week from the entire pocket after Daesh suicide bombings and low visibility due to sand storms.

Last Wednesday, the SDF suspended its fight against the militants after Turkish forces fired on the group's positions in northern Syria.

The coalition estimates 2,000 Daesh militants remain in the Hajin pocket near the border with Iraq, which has reinforced military positions near its Al-Qaim crossing to prevent a spillover of clashes.

Daesh overran large swathes of Syria and neighboring Iraq in 2014, proclaiming a "caliphate" across land it controlled.

But the militant group has since lost most of that territory to various offensives in both countries.

In Syria, its presence has been reduced to parts of the vast Badia desert and Hajin.

Also in Raqqa, a tribal leader was assassinated by Daesh militants in eastern Raqqa city over links with Kurdish militias, local activists said Friday.

Sheikh Bashir Faisal al-Huwaidi, one of al-Afa’adleh tribe leaders, was killed by a silenced pistol early morning.

Daesh has claimed the responsibility for Huwaidi death, saying, the sheikh was "apostate and one of the heads of infidelity" for his cooperation with the Kurdish Democratic Union and allied militias.

Four arrest warrants were issued for Huwaidi by the Syrian regime security services, according to the leaked Intelligence archive obtained by Zaman al-Wasl.

The regime accused Huwaidi of killing General Tayseer Khailah, the head of Political Security in Raqqa in 2013.

Huwaidi called on the US-led Syrian Democratic Forces to hand over the leadership in Raqqa to its indigenous people, mostly Arabs.

Since the Syrian revolution erupted in 2011, more than 470,000 people have been killed, and more than 6 million people have been displaced.

Zaman Al Wasl, AFP

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