Islamic State group suspects in killing of 4 Americans captured

Cheryl Sanders
March 21, 2019

Kurdish-led fighters advanced in the Islamic State group's last bastion in eastern Syria, confining holdout jihadists to a tiny pocket on the edge of Baghouz village, the force said Tuesday, March 18, AFP reports.

Hardened militant fighters holed up in the encampment had been mounting a last-stand defence of the Baghouz enclave, all that is left of Islamic State's self-proclaimed "caliphate" that once spanned a third of both Syria and Iraq.

In a tweet, he added, "Clashes are continuing as a group of ISIS terrorists who are confined into a tiny area still fight back". This is not a victory announcement, but a significant progress in the fight against Daesh [IS's Arabic acronym]. However, the operation is not yet over, an SDF media official said on Tuesday.

Farmer, whose survivors include his wife and four children, had served in the 5th Special Forces Group for most of his almost 14-year career and had served five combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Footage from another part of the camp showed burnt-out cars, dozens of abandoned vehicles, shattered buildings and tents made out of blankets.


The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces said those IS fighters who had not yet surrendered had been forced out of their main encampment and cornered into a very small area on the banks of the Euphrates River.

"The battles are not yet over", he said.

The siege has also been slowed by the unexpectedly large number of civilians in Baghouz, a lot of them families of Islamic State members.

The group's defeat at Baghouz will mark a milestone in the struggle against the jihadists, although adherents are still widely seen as a big security threat with a presence in remote territory and capable of mounting guerrilla attacks.

Diehard jihadists have been mounting a desperate defence of the camp at Baghouz, deploying suicide bombers and auto bombs.

Hundreds of injured and sick suspected IS militants were captured during the SDF's push for control of the encampment, he said.

In an audio posted online Monday, the Islamic State spokesman, Abu Hassan al-Muhajer, issued his first message in six months, calling for revenge attacks by Muslims in Western countries in retaliation for the shooting attack on two New Zealand mosques that killed 50 people.

It has also put out a video from inside the Baghouz camp, showing bearded fighters among bullet-pocked cars and lying on earth ramparts as they fired assault rifles.

"My Muslim brothers everywhere, we did our best, the rest is up to God, " a fighter says as black smoke rises from behind him. She joined a company that provides linguists to the USA military after studying at Georgia State University.

Bali, in a separate Twitter post Tuesday, said the Syrian Democratic Forces captured a group of suspects involved in a January suicide bombing that killed four Americans in the northern town of Manbij. It was the deadliest assault on United States troops in Syria since American forces went into the country in 2015.

The January bombing came shortly after President Trump announced a withdrawal of USA forces from Syria and prompted a backlash from politicians who called for US troops to remain in Syria.

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Washington has now partially reversed Trump's decision, planning to leave 200 peacekeepers in SDF-held territory.

Other reports by iNewsToday