'Islamic State'

Despite Paris attacks, IS “Caliphate” continues to shrink


SDF forces relax after capturing territory from IS on November 14

At about the same time that the Islamic State murderers were committing their atrocities in Paris, their “brothers” in Syria were suffering yet another defeat— this time at the hands of the recently-formed Syrian Democratic Forces.

The SDF captured the town of al-Hawl in northeastern Syria’s Hasakah province which had been held by Islamic State.

It was the first significant advance against IS by the Democratic Forces of Syria, which was formed last month.

Redur Xelil, who is in the town, close to the Iraqi border, told Reuters IS militants had fled. Britain-based monitoring group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed the takeover.

Al-Hawl has been the focus of a two-week-old campaign by the alliance to flush out IS from northeastern areas.
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The advance came as Kurdish forces across the border in Iraq, backed by U.S. air strikes, seized the town of Sinjar from IS militants, in one of the most significant counter-attacks since the jihadists swept through northern Iraq last year.

The Democratic Forces of Syria, which joins together the U.S.-backed [Kurdish] People’s Protection Units (YPG) and several Syrian Arab groups, announced its formation in October, and launched an offensive against IS in Hasakah later that month.

The United States has recently sent weapons to members of the alliance, which includes Kurdish and Arab groups, after Washington shifted its Syria policy towards supplying those groups whose commanders are U.S.-vetted.

In all, the SDF is claiming to have driven IS out of nearly 200 towns in the region.

It seems to be a successful alliance with a winning strategy– which isn’t to deny that the US and other Western countries could and should be providing a lot more assistance.

Meanwhile Omer Taspinar of the Brookings Institution writes that the strategic aim of the Paris attacks was to lure the West into a full-scale invasion of Syria. He warns those calling for such a move that it will only galvanize more support for IS in the region.

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