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US-backed Syrian fighters say they hold ISIS leader’s assistant

Published: Updated:

US-backed fighters in Syria have captured a senior ISIS leader who served as an assistant to the group’s self-declared “caliph” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, they said on Friday.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a Kurdish-led militia alliance that holds the quarter of Syria east of the Euphrates, detained Osama al-Awaid last week, it said in a statement.

SDF fighters have been attempting to take the last ISIS Syrian pocket of territory on the banks of the Euphrates near Iraq for weeks, in an offensive backed by US-led air strikes.

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They captured Awaid in a special operation in a village in eastern Syria, the statement said, adding that he had been a senior security official for ISIS in the country.

More than a year after the physical “caliphate” of ISIS collapsed in both Syria and Iraq under military attack, Baghdadi’s whereabouts remains a mystery.

However, despite its loss of territory, the group has been able to launch guerrilla attacks in areas controlled by both the Syrian and Iraqi governments.