Syria Democratic Forces escalate attacks to expel ISIS from Syria’s Hajin

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The Syria Democratic Forces said that the escalated military offensive to expel ISIS extremist group’s elements from the Hajin pocket, on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River close to the Iraqi border, is a continuous operation on many fronts.

Laila al-Abdullah, an official spokeswoman for the Deir al-Zour military council of SDF told Al Arabiya English that: “The military operations to expel ISIS from Hajin town are still continuing on three axes, up to the Iraqi border.”

She added: “Our forces have managed to liberate hundreds of civilians stranded in areas considered a stronghold of ISIS.”

The spokeswoman said that ISIS was using the civilians as human shields in the area, adding that the “clashes at the highest levels and are still going on until the moment.”

She explained that ISIS elements are carrying surprise attacks against the SDF fighters who are retaliating back. In addition, the spokeswoman al-Abdullah revealed that “SDF tightened its grip on the extremist group in three axes within the town of Hajin.”

According to the spokeswoman, the biggest obstacles faced by the SDF fighters, is the large number of mines planted by ISIS in areas they pulled out from, as well as the use of civilians as human shields after their detention.

She pointed out that: “The battle against ISIS requires more time to end its existence,” adding that “hundreds of its members are in SDF jails, including leaders of the organization of foreign nationalities and others local leaders.”

SDF in Hajin Syria 1 (Supplied)
SDF in Hajin Syria 1 (Supplied)

Official position

Last month, Syria’s Democratic Forces, resumed its offensive against ISIS in the region, 10 days after it was suspended after a Turkish bombing of Kurdish positions north of Syria.

Hundreds of fighters have been brought to the Hajin pocket close to the Iraqi border, as part of SDF effort to end the presence of terrorists, estimated at 2,000 by the US-led coalition.

ALSO READ: Pentagon: Offensive against Kurds in Syria ‘unacceptable’

Despite Turkey’s threats to launch a ground operation east of the Euphrates River against SDF within two days, the battle against ISIS continues in Hajin.

For their part the US-backed Kurdish militia in Syria warned Wednesday that an offensive against it by Turkey would hinder the battle against ISIS, according to AFP.

The warning came just hours after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Ankara would launch an operation “in the next few days” against territory held by Kurdish forces in northern Syria.

The Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) partners with Washington in the fight against ISIS, but Turkey says the group is a “terrorist offshoot” of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The YPG forms the backbone of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the US-led coalition’s key ground partner in the fight against ISIS currently battling to oust extremists from their last holdout in eastern Syria.

In the chaos of Syria’s brutal seven-year war, the long-oppressed Kurdish minority has carved out a semi-autonomous region in the north of the country.

Ankara fears an entrenched Kurdish presence across the border will stoke separatist ambitions at home. In January, Turkish forces backed Syrian rebels to clear the YPG from its northwestern enclave of Afrin, west of the Euphrates River.

The semi-autonomous administration’s executive council appealed to the United Nations, the anti-ISIS coalition and the broader international community “to take a stand against Erdogan’s aggressive plans”.

“We also call on the Syrian government to take an official position against these threats,” the council said in a statement Wednesday.

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