At Baghuz, nearly 500 Islamic State’s fighters are under fire of the Arab-Kurdish coalition. Since Saturday, the assault has been launched against the last confined Jihadists in a “final battle”.
Islamic State’s territory should be liquidated in a few days. The Arab-Kurdish coalition of the SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces) supported by the Westerners launched the final offensive against the last Isis forces, grouped in the Baghuz village, at the Syrian-Kurdish border. The US president, Donald Trump, predicted on Wednesday that Isis will have lost all of its territory by next week. And the SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali declared “The decisive battle began tonight to finish what remains of Daesh terrorists”. But he did not say how long they expect the battle to last.
Islamic State territory now accounts for less than 1% of the caliphate, self-proclaimed in 2014. U.S. officials have said in recent weeks that Isis has lost 99.5% of its territory. The last 500 jihadist fighters are localized in a very small village of about 4 squares kilometers. The fighting was intense this weekend, with American air support. Some 37 000 people have fled the area since December, mainly from Isis families, but also about 3 400 jihadists who have surrendered.
The terrorist threat persists
Even if the Isis organization used to plan attacks from its Syrian base, the Islamic State liquidation is not the end of the terrorist threat. Indeed, in Western, Africa or Asia, the organization retains an ideological mobilization capacity. It is estimated it has relays and sleeping cells in about thirty countries. The US military has warned the group could stage a comeback if the military and counter terrorism pressure on it is eased.
The SDF require Western countries to recover their nationals, which is controversial for some people, who fear that they will be quickly released. Nearly 150 prisoners should be brought back soon by plane, in a combined Franco-American operation.
Lucas Bennoui, IEJ2C