Eli Ridder | SYRIA
The United States-led coalition fighting against Daesh militants in Syria announced on Wednesday that it killed up to 150 militants as a result of airstrikes in the country’s southeast.
A statement released by coalition, known as the joint task force of Operation Inherent Resolve, said the warplanes struck a so-called Islamic State headquarters near al-Shafah in the Middle Euphrates river valley on Saturday.
Intelligence reports and observations from allied Syrian Democratic Forces allowed for the strikes to avoid potential civilian casualties, the statement explained.
While there was no confirmation from so-called Islamic State regarding the attack, the coalition explained the militants were “massing for movement” previous to the strikes.
The Kurdish-led SDF has been an instrumental ally of Washington and considered one of the best ground fighting forces in Syria against jihadist militants.
Daesh has lost 98 per cent of the territory it once held in 2014 when the group carried out its “lightening strike”, capturing large swathes of territory across Iraq and Syria and declaring a “caliphate”.
Both the SDF and pro-Syrian government forces are working to eliminate remaining pockets of militant fighters.
However, Inherent Resolve Special Operations Maj. Gen. James Jarrard made clear that the airstrikes do not mean the “fight to liberate Syria” is near complete.
“Our SDF partners are still making daily progress and sacrifices, and together we are still finding, targeting and killing [Deash] terrorists intent on keeping their extremist hold on the region,” Mr. Jarrard said.
“We cannot take our focus off our mission, and we must not lose our momentum in taking these terrorists off the battlefield and preventing them from resurfacing somewhere else.”
Further north from the fight, the Kurdish militia that leads and largely dominates the SDF, the People’s Protection Units or YPG, are being attacked by Turkish and allied Syrian rebel forces in Afrin.
Ankara recognizes the YPG as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, a group fighting for autonomy from Turkey for several decades.
The YPG denies any links to the terror group, an assertion the U.S. backs.
Image of Daesh fighters from the Chicago Tribune.