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Daesh retakes most of Albu Kamal: Monitor
November 12, 2017
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BEIRUT: The Daesh militant group have recaptured nearly all of Albu Kamal, putting up a fierce fightback for what had been the last significant Syrian town under their control, a monitor said on Saturday.

Syrian regime forces and allied militia overran Albu Kamal, which lies on the border with Iraq, on Thursday but have since faced a string of Daesh counter-attacks.

On Saturday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Daesh had “ambushed” the attacking forces and managed to oust them from most of the town.

“Daesh has almost completely retaken control of Albu Kamal, pushing pro-regime forces to its southern and eastern edges,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Britain-based monitor.

Clashes were still raging there on Saturday, he said.

Daesh began counter-attacking on Thursday night, swiftly retaking several northern districts of Albu Kamal from pro-government fighters.

“It was Daesh’s biggest ambush operation, tricking the attacking forces into thinking they had controlled the city,” Abdel Rahman said.

Albu Kamal lies at the heart of what used to be the sprawling territory that Daesh declared in 2014 across swathes of Iraq and Syria.

Losing it completely would have capped the group’s reversion to an underground guerrilla organisation with no urban base.

Russian-backed Syrian regime forces and allied fighters had steadily advanced on Albu Kamal from the south and west for weeks, while Iraqi forces had closed in on the border area from the east.

The Observatory has said most of the fighting was done by the Lebanese Hizbollah group and elite forces from its backer Tehran, as well as militia groups from Iraq.

On Saturday, Abdel Rahman said Albu Kamal was being pummelled by air strikes, but he could not specify whether they were Iraqi or Russian raids.

A Hizbollah-run media unit said on Friday Daesh leader Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi was reported to have been in Albu Kamal during the Syrian army and its allies’ operation to clear it.

The military unit did not say what had happened to Baghdadi, give further details or identify its sources.

The US-led coalition against Daesh said on Friday it had no “releasable information” on Baghdadi’s whereabouts.

Agence France-Presse

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