The US-backed Syrian Defense Forces (SDF) announced today that Baghouz has been liberated from the Islamic State. The US considers Baghouz to be the last village that was part of the jihadists’ physical caliphate. However, a review of history and current operations shows that the Islamic State has not been entirely defeated.
Russian special forces are reported to have held a training event for the pro-regime Palestinian militia, Liwa al Quds.
Four Americans, including two service members, were killed when an Islamic State suicide bomber struck in Manbij, Syria earlier today.
President Trump claimed earlier today that the Islamic State has been “defeated” in Syria. But an unknown number of the group’s top leaders, including presumably Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, remain alive. And there are likely thousands of fighters in both Syria and Iraq, where they operate as insurgents.
In the past 24 hours, the Islamic State has conducted more than one suicide bombing against US-backed forces in Hajin, Syria. One Islamic State “martyr” blew himself up near the Hajin hospital, which became the scene of intense fighting earlier this week.
The US-led coalition announced today that Abu al Umarayn and “several” other Islamic State leaders were killed in recent airstrikes in Syria. Umarayn was purportedly involved in the 2014 murder of Peter Kassig, a former US Army Ranger who was working as a humanitarian worker in Syria.
While the Treasury designation focuses on the four Iraqis’ links to Hezbollah, which is described as “a terrorist proxy for the Iranian regime that seeks to undermine Iraqi sovereignty and destabilize the Middle East,” it practically ignores the fact that one of them is the Secretary General of the Imam Ali Battalions, or Kata’ib Imam Ali, a key component of the Popular Mobilization Forces, an official military arm of the Iraqi state that reports directly to the prime minister.
Katibat Ghuraba al Turkistan, a smaller predominately Uighur jihadist group in northwestern Syria, recently trained with the elite Malhama Tactical thereby not only raising its credentials, but also its battlefield prowess.