New details appeared on the coup attempt against the leader of Isis, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, witnesses claiming that foreign members of the terrorist group lost a two-day battle with his guards of the body before being arrested and executed.
A witness who spoke with the Guardian after smuggling from the last hamlet held by Isis in eastern Syria, said the clashes had been unfolding in Al Keshma, a village neighbor of Baghouz, in September, three months earlier than regional intelligence officials would have believed. .
"I saw it with my own eyes," said Jumah Hamdi Hamdan, 53. "He was in Keshma and in September Khawarij (infidels) tried to capture him. "The fighting was very intense, they had tunnels between houses. These were mainly Tunisians and many people were killed. "
Hamdan said that Baghdadi then moved to Baghouz from where he fled to the desert in early January. This account was supported by senior regional officials, who claim that it would likely stay there, the remains of the so-called caliphate that it's built having disintegrated nearby.
A senior military official of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), Kurdish fighting force Isis, said that other members of the Isis foreign region had joined the fighting, including Algerians and Moroccans. "It was a really tough confrontation and they excommunicated the losers," said an SDF commander at the Baghouz front, who uses the war name Adnan Afrini. "It started in mid-September and it was a very serious attempt to kill him or to capture him. We do not think he's in town now. "
Hamdan said Baghdadi and his guard were in the area for nearly six months before fleeing. "He tried to be discreet and did not travel to town with them, but we all knew where they were. He used an old red Opal car.
Isis awarded a bonus to the head of the leading tracer, Abu Muath al-Jazairi, who would be a veteran foreign fighter.
Nemsha, with much of Baghouz, is in ruins while Kurdish forces and British, French and American special forces are tightening the net on the last pocket that the group has – a small strip of land along the way. Euphrates.
Kurdish forces on the Baghouz front line believe that this area is defended by about 400 unconditional members of Isis, who do not intend to surrender. The SDF reported capturing 41 positions occupied by Isis.
It is believed that Isis' rulers hold Western hostages captured by the organization in the last five years and that they intend to use as foreign currency. exchange. British journalist John Cantlie is believed to be among them and Baghouz residents who have fled the city have suggested that caves on the outskirts were used to hide him and other captives.
Mortars fired by Western Special Forces rained a large part of Sunday. Fighter planes climbed above, leaving white and circular streams that marked their orbits. The planes sometimes dropped powerful bombs that created huge plumes of smoke. Surveillance drones moved slowly under the jets. Aram Kochar, a senior Kurdish army official, said Isis fighters were wary of drones and were rarely seen in the streets except at dusk or under cloud cover.
"They are very committed and do not intend to leave," he said from the roof of an advanced base, about 700 meters from the nearest position of Isis. "We took two houses yesterday and brought them back to us at night."
On Saturday evening, Kurdish forces launched the final phase of the Baghouz capture operation – a decision that will allow them to claim to expel Isis from all Syrian land he had since his capture of the country in early 2013. At the top of his powers, Isis had removed the neighboring border of Iraq and controlled a land area from eastern Aleppo to Mosul – roughly the size of Wales.
As its losses accumulate, the group faces a return to the habits of its predecessors, a low-level insurgency that terrorized Iraqi cities, in particular. Friday night, up to 10 Isis motorcycle fighters attempted to storm an American military base located near the Al-Omar oil field, 60 km from the front. The attack was announced earlier Friday when a motorcycle exploded on a bridge near the base.
Afrini said that Isis knew guerrilla warfare well and that fighting the group when its members had returned to their communities would be a daunting challenge. "This will require a local intelligence war," he said. "It will not be easy."
Groups of people, presumed to be the last to leave Baghouz, sat Sunday on a ridge of grass, just outside the city, where new arrivals were treated daily during the summer. last three weeks. Bombs entered the nearby city as an icy wind annoyed the women and children dressed in black who were walking slowly near the military trucks that had gone into battle.
Abandoned motorbikes, ragged clothes and razors littered a road. In the interior of Baghouz, bombed oil tankers were lying among the rows of destroyed houses. "It could take about a week," said Kochar. "Maybe more."
Additional report: Mohammed Rasool