Civilians prompt delay in assault on last Daesh enclave: Kurd-led forces

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, above, has battled to crush Daesh in the shrinking Baghouz enclave east of the Euphrates river near the Iraqi border. (Reuters)
Updated 16 February 2019

Civilians prompt delay in assault on last Daesh enclave: Kurd-led forces

  • The last few hundred Daesh militants, many of them foreigners, had surrendered in the past two days to the Syrian Democratic Forces

OMAR OIL FIELD, Syria: “Large numbers” of civilians remain inside the last Daesh group enclave in Syria prompting a fresh delay in a final advance, Kurdish-led forces said on Saturday.

“There are still civilians inside in large numbers,” US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces spokesman Adnan Afrin said on the day President Donald Trump said he expected to announce the end of the militants’ “caliphate.”

“We weren’t expecting this number, otherwise we wouldn’t have resumed the campaign four days ago. This is why it’s been delayed,” Afrin said.

A second SDF spokesman said that the diehard militants remained in control of the tiny enclave around the village of Baghouz on the north bank of the Euphrates river.

“The pocket inside Baghouz is still controlled by the Daesh group,” spokesman Mustefa Bali said.

“There are still civilians inside Baghouz and we are working on getting them out.”

Neither spokesman would comment on the timeline set by Trump for a US announcement that the “caliphate” had been eradicated.

“We have a lot of great announcements having to do with Syria and our success with the eradication of the caliphate and that will be announced over the next 24 hours,” Trump told reporters at around 1600 GMT on Thursday.

Russia supports Algerian government plan: Lamamra

Sergei Lavrov, right, made the remarks ahead of discussions with Algeria’s Deputy PM Ramtane Lamamra, left. (AFP/File)
Updated 19 March 2019

Russia supports Algerian government plan: Lamamra

  • Algeria’s Deputy Prime Minister Ramtane Lamamra is scheduled to visit other countries too

MOSCOW: Algeria’s Deputy Prime Minister Ramtane Lamamra has expressed thanks for the support Russia has given in resolving the crisis currently engulfing his country, but stressed it was an internal issue.

“I am pleased that Russia understands this is an internal issue that we are capable of resolving,” Lamamra said. He added that the Algerian government had responded to the legitimate demands of the Algerian people.

Algeria’s President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has agreed to hand over power to an elected president, and the opposition will be allowed to take part in the cabinet that will oversee elections.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also said on Tuesday that Moscow supported the Algerian government’s initiative to hold talks with the opposition after weeks of protests.

Lavrov made the comments after meeting Lamamra in Moscow on Tuesday.