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Pentagon warns of IS resurgence in regime areas of Syria

A Syrian pro-government militia member holds a captured Islamic State group flag in June 2017 outside the city of Raqa, which later fell to the Syrian Democratic Forces in October 2017
AFP

Washington (AFP) – The US military has seen the Islamic State group “resurge” in some parts of Syria under government control, a US defense official said Tuesday.

Colonel Ryan Dillon, a spokesman for the US-led coalition fighting IS in Syria and Iraq, said the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and its ally Russia have not always been able to hold the terrain recaptured from IS.

“As we look at ISIS in areas where we are not operating, where we are not supporting our partners on the ground, there has been ISIS elements who have been able to come back and take territory (including in) some of the neighborhoods in southern Damascus,” Dillon said, using an alternative acronym for the jihadist group.

“We’ve seen ISIS start to resurge in areas west of the Euphrates River,” he added.

The US military is closely watching IS in Syria and Iraq, where the jihadists have lost 98 percent of the land they once held, according to the Pentagon.

Progress however has ground to a halt in recent weeks in areas where the US-led coalition is fighting IS through the Syrian Democratic Forces, a local proxy group, due to Turkish military action in the north.

Ankara in January launched a bloody operation around Afrin to push Kurdish fighters out of the city.

Many of the Kurdish fighters that had been engaged in anti-IS operations have quit that fight to support comrades in Afrin.

Dillon said there had been no significant gains against IS since the Kurdish members of the SDF had left.

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