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18 February, 2019 00:00 00 AM
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IS in last stand to defend dying ‘caliphate’ in Syria

AFP, Omar Oil Field

Diehard jihadists have blocked roads out of the last scrap of their Islamic State group “caliphate” in Syria, US-backed forces fighting them said yesterday, preventing hundreds of civilians from fleeing.

Ahead of a victory declaration expected within days and a subsequent US military pullout, US President Donald Trump called on his European allies to take back hundreds of alleged jihadists captured in Syria.

At a base for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces behind the frontline in eastern Syria, an AFP reporter heard airplanes darting in the sky.

The jihadists declared a “caliphate” across large parts of Syria and neighbouring Iraq in 2014, implementing their brutal interpretation of Islam on millions.

But several offensives have expelled them from all of it, except a tiny patch of less than half a kilometre square on the banks of the Euphrates river near the Iraqi border.

Thousands of people have streamed out of the so-called “Baghouz pocket” in recent weeks, but hundreds of civilians—including IS family members—are believed to still be inside.

SDF spokesman Mustefa Bali said IS had blocked roads out of their holdout, preventing those remaining from escaping to safety. “Daesh has sealed off all the streets,” he said, adding up to 2,000 civilians could still be inside.

IS is confined to “a few hundred metres square in... Baghouz with a number of civilians they hold hostage and refuse to release”, he earlier said.

A spokesman for the US coalition, which has been backing the SDF with air strikes, said IS was using these women and children as “human shields”.

“Civilians who have escaped are reporting ISIS is using them as human shields and killing innocent civilians in order to intimidate others from trying to leave,” Sean Ryan said.

 

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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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