ISIS will be defeated in Syria within a month: commander
Military operations against ISIS in Syria are wrapping up
and the last pocket of the jihadists' "caliphate" will be flushed out
within a month, a top commander said, according to AFP.
"The operation of our forces against ISIS in its last
pocket has reached its end and ISIS fighters are now surrounded in one
area," Mazloum Kobani, the chief of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic
Forces, told AFP.
With backing from the US-led coalition, the SDF are in the
last phase of an operation started on September 10 to defeat the jihadists in
the Euphrates Valley in eastern Syria.
"We need a month to eliminate ISIS remnants still in
the area," said Kobani, who spoke to AFP on Thursday near the northeastern
Syrian city of Hasakeh.
A few hundred ISIS fighters are defending a handful of
hamlets near the Iraqi border, the last rump of a "caliphate" which
the jihadist organization proclaimed in 2014 and once covered territory the
size of Britain.
"I believe that during the next month we will
officially announce the end of the military presence on the ground of the
so-called caliphate," Kobani said.
Intense fighting in the area known as "the Hajin
pocket" has left hundreds of fighters dead on both sides, according to the
Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor.
ISIS lost the town of Hajin late last year and the
subsequent collapse of its defenses saw the Kurdish-led SDF conquer one village
Kobani said their battle had been complicated by the
jihadist group's shifting strategy after the fall of their de-facto Syrian
capital of Raqqa in 2017.
New tactics include "sleeper cells everywhere, secretly
recruiting people again, and carrying out suicide operations, bombings, and
assassinations", he said.
"We expect there will be an increase in the intensity
of ISIS operations against our forces after the end of their military
presence," Kobani said.
ISIS has retained a presence in Syria's vast Badia desert
and has claimed a series of attacks in SDF-held territory.