Iraq Launches Offensive to Recapture Last Town under ISIS Control

Trump has inherited America's vexed legacy in Iraq

Islamic State group jihadists have recaptured almost all of Albu Kamal, putting up a fierce fightback for what had been the last significant Syrian town under their control, a monitor said Saturday.

The SDF also faces restlessness in an Arab-majority town it liberated a year ago, a possible sign of things to come in other areas that the Kurdish-dominated forces control in their self-rule area in northern Syria, now about 25 percent of the country's territory.

The Observatory has said most of the fighting was done by the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah and elite forces from its backer Tehran, as well as militia groups from Iraq. However, in a surprise attack on Friday, the jihadist group recaptured half of the town.

It is believed ISIL fighters are holding 10,000 civilians hostage in the town of Rawa. The organization's leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was reported to be in the area.

On November 9, the Syrian army said in a statement that it had "liberated" Al-Bukamal, the last urban IS-stronghold in Syria. There was little to slow the advance of the Syrian army and its allies after their victories further up the Euphrates valley, but while the military phase of the fight against IS was nearing its end, the humanitarian crisis it sparked was still in full swing.

With ISIS finally expelled from the Khabur River, the SDF is expected to regroup in the coming days for a major southwards push along the border with Iraq. "You wonder is this really warfare where one is sparing all civilians among designated terrorists as much as one can", he asked, speaking to reporters in Geneva.

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