US-backed Syrian Force Declares ISIS Is in ‘Final Moments’

Bowen Xiao
By Bowen Xiao
January 13, 2019US News
US-backed Syrian Force Declares ISIS Is in ‘Final Moments’
This picture shows members of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Hajin, in the Deir Ezzor province, eastern Syria, on Dec. 15, 2018. (Delil Souleiman/AFP/Getty Images)

The fight against the ISIS terrorist group has reached its final stage.

An official with the U.S.-backed Syria Democratic Forces (SDF) said ISIS fighters are “living their final moments” in the last enclave that they hold near the Iraqi border. SDF forces had engaged with fighters at the enclave.

Mustafa Bali, who is in charge of the SDF media office, said on Jan. 13 their forces had ramped up attacks in the last two days and taken control of the area between the ISIS enclave and Iraqi border, cutting off an escape route.

Bali said ISIS fighters “realize that this battle is the battle to eliminate them.”

Meanwhile, coalition spokesman Colonel Sean Ryan said, “The SDF is making great progress and continues to liberate more territory once held by ISIS but the fight continues.”

In December, President Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of 2,000 U.S. troops from Syria, citing the defeat of ISIS and how troops were no longer needed there. A Department of Defense spokesman confirmed on Jan. 11. the coalition had started the withdrawal process.

“We will be leaving at a proper pace while at the same time continuing to fight ISIS and doing all else that is prudent and necessary!” Trump said in a Twitter post on Jan. 7.

A victory over the terrorists in the enclave would essentially take down the group’s territorial foothold on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River.

With the help of the U.S.-led coalition the SDF, a group of militias led by the Kurdish YPG, ISIS has been driven out of northern and eastern Syria over the past four years. A November report from the Department of Defense found ISIS has lost all territories it once held in Iraq and controls only 1 percent of the territory it once had in Syria.

U.S. armed forces recently killed Jamal al-Badawi, who led a deadly terrorist attack on the USS Cole in the year 2000. Trump announced the news in a Twitter post dated Jan. 6, two days after the U.S. military said it had carried out a strike targeting al-Badawi in Yemen.

“Our great military has delivered justice for the heroes lost and wounded in the cowardly attack on the USS Cole. We have just killed the leader of that attack, Jamal al-Badawi,” Trump said in a Twitter post. “Our work against al Qaeda continues. We will never stop in our fight against radical Islamic terrorism.”

While Turkey aims to pursue the Kurdish forces allied with the United States, the Russia- and Iran-backed Syrian government sees a chance to recover extensive territory.

U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton last week suggested protection for Washington’s Kurdish allies would be a precondition of the U.S. withdrawal. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan called Bolton’s comments a “serious mistake.”

Pentagon Departures

Three senior Pentagon officials have resigned following Trump’s decision to pull out from Syria. Rear Adm. Kevin Sweeney, the Pentagon’s chief of staff to the secretary of defense, resigned on Jan. 6 after holding the position for two years.

“I’ve decided the time is right to return to the private sector,” Sweeney said in a short statement.

He did not mention the president in his statement and paid a tribute to the “men and women of the Department of Defense.”

Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White also stepped down from her position. White’s resignation at the end of December came amid an internal Defense Department investigation into her conduct after a number of complaints from other staff were filed against her.

Sweeney’s resignation comes just five days after Jim Mattis left his post as defense secretary on Jan. 1—two months earlier than the previously planned departure in Feb. 

The four-star general highlighted policy differences he had with the president in his letter of resignation. He said Trump has the “right to have a secretary of defense whose views are better aligned with yours.”

Reuters contributed to this report

From The Epoch Times

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