BEIRUT — U.S.-backed Syrian fighters cleared explosives in the last area retaken from the Islamic State group on Sunday and arrested a number of militants hiding in tunnels, a day after declaring military victory and the end of the extremists’ self-styled caliphate.
The U.S.-led coalition said the clearing operations will continue until the area is secure.
A spokesman for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, who goes by the nom de guerre Mervan The Brave, said Baghouz village where the militants made their final stand is “full of all kinds of explosives.” He said SDF forces have detonated land mines and suicide belts left behind by the militants.
The Kurdish Hawar News Agency reported that during the combing SDF forces arrested a number of militants found hiding in combat tunnels. Mervan The Brave confirmed the reports but had no further details.
Other activist groups monitoring the area reported limited clashes between remaining militants and SDF fighters.
In a series of tweets, the U.S.-led coalition said the SDF continued “back-clearance operations” to rid Baghouz of any militants or weapon caches.
“The Syrian Democratic Forces will continue to deny Daesh a physical space and influence in the area and work to deny them the resources they need to return,” it said using the Arabic acronym for IS. “This back-clearance operation will be deliberate and thorough and help ensure the long-term security for the area.”
A day earlier, a Syrian driver working with NBC News reporters was killed by an explosive device that went off in a house used by the SDF as a command post and a media center for journalists covering the fighting in Baghouz.
Noah Oppenheim, the president of NBC News, said in a statement that network employees escaped unharmed and that the reason for the explosion was being investigated. He expressed “deepest sympathies” to the driver’s family and …read more
Source:: Deseret News – U.S. & World News