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Baghuz liberation raises questions about fate of IS

Thursday 14/March/2019 - 01:54 PM
The Reference
Sara Rashad

Questions about the fate of the Islamic State (IS) group always emerge every time the group loses a new territory.

The eastern Syrian village of Baghuz was the last territory under IS control. The loss of the village means that IS is coming close to its final defeat.

Around 3,000 IS militants and their families had surrendered to Syrian Democratic Forces, which are widely known as QSD, on March 12.

The forces say they will launch a new operation to kill IS remnants who refuse to lay down their arms and insist on fighting to the end.

The US-led coalition against IS estimates the number of remaining IS fighters inside the village at a few hundreds. Syrian Democratic Forces estimate the number to be at 500.

A large number of those remaining reportedly prefer surrender in return for allowing them to exit Baghuz together with their family members.

Nonetheless, IS continues to produce videos and media materials to encourage its fighters to keep fighting.

Around 60,000 IS elements have reportedly left the IS IS strongholds east of the Euphrates since December 2018.

Post-Baghuz liberation period

QSD spokesman Keno Djibril said the operation in Baghuz is over or is almost over, but it takes more time to complete on the ground.

He added in a statement that by losing its last stronghold, IS is moving towards its end.

The Washington Post ran a report recently on the fate of IS after Baghuz. It said the terrorist organization would not come to total end, even with the loss of its last stronghold.

The internet, the newspaper said, continues to be an IS bastion that it would continue to be in control of for a long time.

Retired army general Emad Alw, who advises the European Center for Counterterrorism and Intelligence Studies, says IS remnants continue to be in a large number of Syrian territories.

He adds in a study titled, "Beyond Baghuz: the next phase of the war", these remnants are able to find hiding in the Syrian desert using the geography of these areas to stay away from forces fighting them.

This desert is a fertile ground for IS to seek hiding and escape the watch of the international coalition fighting it.

He explained that the organization already has a number of camps and settlements in the desert of Western Badia.

Alw pointed out that those fleeing Syria to Iraq will find broad welcome and opportunities to work within these bases.

Alw's study supported the possibility that the coming period will see the emergence new desert wars. It says regular armies, including the Iraqi army would find difficulty tracking elements of IS.

This, it says, does not mean that the organization is going through a good stage.