US-backed forces take half of Islamic State stronghold in east Syria
QAMISHLI (Kurdistan 24) – US-backed, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said on Wednesday that they had gained control of half the territory in the final Islamic State (IS) stronghold, located in eastern Syria's Deir Al-Zor Province.
In an online statement, the SDF said they entered the town of Hajin from the west and pushed eastward for 3 km.
“Our forces controlled 61 points while advancing in the outskirts of Hajin and 3 km inside the town after breaking the lines of defense and fortifications of terrorists during fierce clashes [that] lasted for hours,” the SDF statement read.
It continued by stating that heavy fighting was still ongoing in the Hawama neighborhood, located in the west part of Hajin. The liberated areas of the town described contain strategic points such as villas formerly belonging to the town's wealthier class and the largest area mosque, used recently by IS for preparing car bombs and suicide bombers.
Last month, IS militants launched counter attacks and took territory back from the SDF, including the western outskirts of Hajin and parts of the eastern countryside of Tanak oil field.
“International coalition aircraft carried out several raids on terrorists and cut off their supply lines, while our fighters repelled a Daesh convoy of 40 vehicles, including armored vehicles and vehicles loaded with Dushka weapons,” the SDF statement reads.
The SDF also said that they had recently killed 228 militants, with the US-led coalition launching 115 raids on IS targets in the past three days.
On another frontline near the border with Iraq, the SDF also advanced a few kilometers farther, securing about 18 strategic points from IS.
On Sept. 11, the SDF and the US-led international coalition announced the start of their operation to take the last remaining IS-held town of Hajin, located along the banks of the Euphrates River, in addition to the surrounding villages of Baghoz, Susah, and Shafa’. The SDF gained control of Baghoz and Susah in the final week of October.
On Oct. 31, the SDF announced it had decided to temporarily halt its campaign against the jihadist group until Turkey ended its attacks on Syria’s northeast.
Following intensive discussions with the US-led coalition, the General Command of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) announced on Nov. 11 that it would resume military operations against IS in the region.
Editing by John J. Catherine