The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are fighting Daesh leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s followers and family members in Hajin, an eastern Syrian town about 50 km west of the Iraqi border, a Sun correspondent embedded with the militia has reported.
“In other battles, the jihadists had other places to run to, but in Hajin they have nowhere to go,” SDF commander Havel Ronnie Walat told the outlet. “Here it is only the true believers left and they will fight to the death,” he said.
Earlier, Moscow accused the US-led coalition of resuming airstrikes in the area using white phosphorus bombs, and said the attacks were causing casualties among civilians trapped in the area. On Wednesday, Syrian media reported that the coalition used cluster bombs in Hajin and the nearby town of al-Sha’afa, leading to multiple civilian deaths. The coalition has repeatedly denied using cluster and white phosphorus munitions in populated areas in eastern Syria.
Commenting on rumors that al-Baghdadi may be hiding out in the Hajin, Walat revealed that the terrorist head honcho’s brother “was in the area recently (and) he was holding a meeting encouraging people to fight. Also, about a month and a half ago, we got intelligence that we killed (one of) Baghdadi’s sons,” the commander said.
The SDF commander said that “significant numbers” of foreign fighters remain trapped in the area, including fighters of Afghani, British, Chechen, unidentified European, Iraqi and Saudi origin. He added that the fight against the terrorists for the area has turned into a crawl, with Daesh using vehicles in suicide bombings, building tunnels and placing improvised explosive devices everywhere.
“[Daesh] have had over five years to prepare,” Walat said. “It’s very slow work [and] we are having to take [territory] house by house, metre by metre.”
“We will begin the offensive against Hajin soon…but I don’t think this battle will be done quickly. This is not a war that can be won quickly,” Walat emphasized.
Over the course of the war against Daesh in Syria and Iraq, al-Baghdadi repeatedly evaded assassination attempts by the Russian, US and Iranian militaries.
In September, Iraqi media reported that al-Baghdadi narrowly escaped death after showing up late to a meeting of terrorist commanders. The terrorist issued his latest address to followers in August, urging them to continue the jihad and to “burn” the infidels.