Iraq News - Local News - Baghdadpost

The final fight against ISIS

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SDF
At the height of their rule, the jihadists imposed their brutal interpretation of extremist law on a territory roughly the size of Britain.

But separate military offensives in both countries, including by the SDF, have since retaken the vast bulk of that "caliphate".

On Saturday, Bali said he expected the battle for the last patch of ISIS territory to be over in days.

The jihadists however retain a presence in Syria's vast Badia desert, and have claimed a series of deadly attacks by sleeper cells in SDF-held areas.

Since December, more than 37,000 people, mostly wives and children of jihadist fighters, have fled out into SDF-held areas, the Observatory says.

That figure includes some 3,400 suspected jihadists detained by the SDF, according to the monitor, which relies on sources inside Syria for its information.

The SDF holds hundreds of foreigners accused of belonging to the extremist group in its custody, as well as members of their families.

They have urged Western governments to repatriate their nationals, but politicians abroad have been reluctant.

- US withdrawal -
Relatives at home fear alleged foreign jihadists may end up facing tough justice in Iraq instead, where Human Rights Watch warned they could face "torture and unfair trials".

The issue of jihadist repatriation has come into sharper focus since the United States in December announced its military withdrawal from Syria.

That announcement has seen the Kurds warn they may struggle to keep jihadists in jail, and pushed them to seek a new ally in the Damascus regime to prevent a long threatened Turkish offensive.

While the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) have been a key US ally in the fight against ISIS, Ankara views them as "terrorists".

Syria's Kurds have largely stayed out of the country's civil war, instead building semi-autonomous institutions in northern and northeastern regions they control.

Syria's conflict has killed more than 360,000 people and displaced millions since erupting eight years ago after a brutal crackdown of anti-government protests.

Rebels and jihadists seized large parts of the country in the first years of the war.

But President Bashar al-Assad's regime has made a military comeback with Russian military support since 2015, and now holds almost two-thirds of the country.

SDF-held areas make up a third of the whole country, and Damascus has repeatedly said it would eventually see them revert to government control.
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