Fierce fighting near last IS foothold in eastern Syria

Arturo Kim
February 12, 2019

The presence of fighters' wives and children has slowed the offensive, according the Observatory. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going.

What's hanging the balance, and of concern for U.S. officials, is the unresolved fate of the Kurds who are now looking down the barrels of the Turkish army and the head-chopping knives of their jihadi "rebel" allies on the ground, poised to invade formerly US-occupied space in Syria.

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While the SDF has warned that it is unable to detain growing numbers of ISIS fighters and their families long term, watchdog organisation Human Rights Watch has warned that the rendition of prisoners to Iraq to face trial risks breaching global and domestic laws.

Despite Trump's decision, America still has 2,000 or so troops in Syria.

Votel has been a key officer involved in the USA role in Syria as head of Central Command.

"In terms of the withdrawal ..." The militants have been regrouping as an insurgency in numerous areas they have already lost.

Success against the Islamic State in Baghouz would also increase pressure on the US military to pull out of Syria, in accordance with Trump's instructions that the troops should leave once the Islamic State has been defeated.

US Army General Joseph Votel, head of the US Central Command, cautioned that the exact timing would depend on the situation in Syria.

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U.S. officials were reportedly briefing other members of the anti-IS coalition this week, at a meeting hosted by the State Department in Washington, DC. At the same time the United States held specific discussions with Turkey on aa variety of working groups, and also with Arab allies, about Syria.

Trump the withdrawal of U.S. forces in December, to from the media, Democrats, most of the foreign policy establishment in Washington and even some of his allies in the Republican party.

The withdrawal of USA forces could also spell trouble for their closest ally in the region, the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), who Turkey considers a terrorist group.

The enclave, close to the Iraqi border, comprises two villages. Thousands of Syrians have fled the fighting and hundreds of foreign ISIS fighters and their families have been detained.

The Turkish minister said he met during his stay in Washington with Chairman of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations James Risch and a number of other members to discuss the latest developments in northern Syria.

The US has made a concerted effort to have countries repatriate their citizens in detention in order to ease the burden on detention facilities but has had limited success in doing so.

"Moving people is easier than moving equipment and so what we're trying to do right now is again [to] kind of clear out those materials, that equipment, that we do not need".

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Tuesday that "Turkey's patience will run out soon if the PKK-linked YPG terrorists do not leave Syria's Manbij within the next few weeks".

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