U.S.-backed forces retake ISIS hub in east Syria – monitor

Agence France-Presse
U.S.-backed forces retake ISIS hub in east Syria – monitor
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the Syrian Democratic Forces have secured Hajin, the largest settlement in what is the last pocket of territory controlled by the Islamic State group

BEIRUT, Lebanon – Kurdish-dominated forces backed by air strikes by a US-led coalition retook full control of a key jihadist hub in eastern Syria on Friday, December 14, a war monitor said.

The Syrian Democratic Forces secured Hajin, the largest settlement in what is the last pocket of territory controlled by the Islamic State group (IS, formerly known as ISIS or the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq), the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

“After a week of heavy fighting and air strikes, the SDF were able to kick ISIS out of Hajin,” Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the Britain-based monitoring organisation, said.

The operation was completed at dawn, he said, a day after SDF forces fanned out across the large village in the Euphrates valley.

The last ISIS fighters on Thursday, December 13, were confined to a network of tunnels and the edges of Hajin, which lies in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor, about 30 kilometers (18 miles) from the border with Iraq.

The area held by ISIS is sometimes referred to as the “Hajin pocket”, the last rump of a once-sprawling “caliphate” the group proclaimed in 2014 over swathes of Syria and Iraq.

According to Abdel Rahman, a total of 17,000 fighters from he Kurdish-Arab SDF alliance are involved in the operation to flush ISIS out of its last bastion. – Rappler.com