Published: Fri, February 22, 2019
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Top French jihadist believed killed in Syria

Top French jihadist believed killed in Syria

Both the SDF and U.S. officials have said the presence of civilians in Islamic State's last pocket at Baghouz, targeted by air strikes again on Tuesday night, has slowed their advance.

The United Kingdom has refused to take back their citizens who joined the Islamic State and has reportedly stripped them of their citizenships.

At least 10 people were killed and a number were wounded on Thursday when a bomb blast hit a minibus carrying workers employed in a major oil installation in eastern Syria run by the SDF. It is not clear how many civilians remain holed up inside, along with the militants.

Remaining civilians are expected to be evacuated from Islamic State's final enclave in eastern Syria on Thursday, clearing the way for them to wipe out the last vestige of jihadist rule that once straddled Syria and Iraq.

The U.S. -led coalition said that "the most hardened ISIL fighters remain in Baghouz".

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) evacuated hundreds of people from the Islamic State (IS) enclave of Baghuz, east Deir Ezzor, on February 20, according to local and worldwide reports.

Few believe the capture of Baghouz will end ISIL's threat, as some fighters still hold out in the central Syrian desert and it has managed to stage repeated guerrilla attacks in areas where its territorial rule was ended.

A day after hundreds of people were evacuated from the last Daesh remnant, more than 50 trucks on Thursday returned near empty from Baghouz to SDF territory, an AFP correspondent said.

But the extremists have since lost nearly all their territory, and hundreds of foreigners suspected of being Daesh fighters, as well as related women and children, are being held by the SDF. "We don't know why they are not coming out".

The handover comes as the US -backed Syrian forces are involved in a standoff over the final IS-held sliver of land in southeastern Syria, close to the Iraqi border amid the extremists' imminent territorial defeat.

An Alabama woman who joined IS in Syria also made headlines after the USA said Wednesday she won't be allowed to return with her toddler son because she is not an American citizen.

It came after a lawyer for the family of a teenager who fled London to join the extremists when she was 15 said Britain was revoking her citizenship.

Children and women stand at the back of a truck near the village of Baghouz, in Deir Al Zor province, Syria.

SDF's Bali, however, denied the claim.

According to AFP, SDF spokesman Adnan Afrin said on February 19 "dozens of civilians and some fighters have handed themselves over".

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported a auto bomb that was detonated remotely as a convoy that includes workers and technicians who work at the oil field was passing.

Fabien Clain, who is believed to have gone to Syria in March 2015, was killed in Baghouz, they said.

Clain is considered a key figure in the 2015 attacks in Paris, and it was his voice that claimed responsibility in the name of Islamic State for the deadly onslaught in his home country.

Taking it will nudge the eight-year-long Syrian war towards a new phase, with U.S. President Donald Trump having pledged to withdraw American troops, leaving a security vacuum that other powers would seek to fill.

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