SDF continues to ‘comb’ area in Baghouz for ISIS sleeper cells: spokesperson

There are “still some terrorists hiding in the cave system in [the] vicinity of mount Baghouz.”

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) continue to monitor the recently liberated area of Baghouz in northeastern Syria for remnants of the so-called Islamic State, an SDF spokesperson said on Tuesday.

Mustafa Bali, the head of the SDF Press Office, said the Kurdish-led forces are “combing the area in Baghouz and its vicinity” where they continue to dismantle mines and traps and look for sleeper cells and other remnants of the Islamic State.

There are “still some terrorists hiding in the cave system in [the] vicinity of mount Baghouz,” Bali wrote on Twitter.

Despite the SDF and the US-led coalition announcing the defeat of the extremist group’s so-called caliphate on March 23, Islamic State sleeper cell attacks continue in Arab majority areas that were liberated from the militants.

On Friday, a car bomb in the Syrian province of Deir al-Zor killed an SDF fighter. A day later, another SDF fighter died from his injuries after unknown gunmen believed to be members of the Islamic State shot him in the same province.

On March 25, seven fighters were killed in the city of Manbij—an attack the Islamic State claimed.

Senior SDF officials have called for continued support from the US-led coalition to fight sleeper cells and prevent the extremist group’s resurgence.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based war monitoring group, said US-led airstrikes late last month killed at least 50 Islamic State militants who were hiding in caves and bunkers in Baghouz.

Related Article: Airstrikes in Baghouz kill at least 50 ISIS fighters hiding in caves, bunkers: monitor

The victory announcement followed a prolonged military offensive on the extremist group’s last remaining pocket of territory in war-torn Syria and marked the end of the extremist group's self-declared caliphate that had been in place since June 2014. At its height, militants controlled an area comparable to the size of Britain, with an estimated population of 12 million people under its rule. 

Editing by John J. Catherine