ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi may be in Syria's al-Boukamal

Violet Powell
November 12, 2017

Islamic State group jihadists have recaptured almost all of Albu Kamal, putting up a fierce fightback for what had been the last significant Syrian town under their control, a monitor said Saturday. The US-led coalition against IS said on Friday it had no "releasable information" on Baghdadi's whereabouts.

"The fighting is ongoing, now close to the town's centre", Abdurrahman said, adding that when ISIS fighters withdrew from Boukamal on Thursday it was a trap they set to hit back at government forces and their allies.

Reports that ISIS has lost its "last" stronghold in Syria may have been premature.

Albu Kamal lies at the heart of what used to be the sprawling "caliphate" that IS declared in 2014 across swathes of Iraq and Syria.

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IS has suffered a string of defeats at the hands of separate but simultaneous offensives in Iraq and Syria by the Russian-backed Syrian forces and allied militias as well as USA -backed Iraqi and Syrian fighters.

"IS fully recaptured Albu Kamal, and regime forces and allied militia are now between one to two kilometres from the city limits", Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Britain-based Observatory, said on Saturday.

But on Saturday, troops backed by militia recruited among the region's Sunni Arab tribes "launched a major offensive to liberate Rumana and the Rawa area", General Abdelamir Yarallah said.

Across the border, Iraqi forces on Saturday seized several villages from the militants in an offensive to capture the last IS-held section of their country.

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