'Fight against Isil not over yet' warns British general who says some jihadists managing to escape strikes

'Fight against Isil not over yet' warns British general who says some jihadists managing to escape strikesThe fight against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is not over, a British general has warned, saying its remaining fighters in Syria have been able to move to areas they are unable to target. Major General Felix Gedney, the deputy commander of strategy and support for the international coalition against Isil, said the Syrian government is not doing enough to stop the militants from moving through its territory. “They seem to be moving with impunity through regime-held territory, showing that the regime is clearly either unwilling or unable to defeat Daesh within their borders,” Maj Gen Gedney told Pentagon reporters, using the Arabic acronym for the group. He said it was the responsibility of the Syrian regime to fight Isil. “We can only defeat [it] in the areas that our partner forces control,” he said. A Syrian pro-government member watches as smoke rises from buildings following an air strike by government forces in the eastern city of Deir Ezzor Credit: AFP The US-led coalition does not bomb areas controlled by the Bashar al-Assad government, fearing a confrontation with its backer Russia in the crowded skies over Syria. The coalition has estimated there are somewhere between 1,000-2,000 Isil jihadists – some of whom thought to be foreign – left fighting around the desert between the Iraqi and Syrian border. US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have driven Isil from the eastern side of the Euphrates RIver but claim they are encountering fleeing fighters on a routine basis. They said they have observed the jihadists travelling westward, across the Euphrates into territory controlled by Syrian troops. Over the past month, there were two reported incidents of groups of terrorists also crossing from regime-controlled area into coalition-controlled areas of southern Syria. Despite their diminishing numbers, Isil fighters have still managed in recent weeks to launch attacks around their former stronghold of Deir Ezzor. Members of Isil preparing the beheadings of at least 15 men described as Syrian troops Credit: al-Furqan “The Syrian regime has failed to demonstrate its ability to prevent the resurgence of (Isil) on their own soil,” Maj Gen Gedney complained. He said declarations of victory, by Syria and Russia, have been premature. While Iraqi Security Forces and SDF have secured major successes, the coalition said on Thursday that more work remains to ensure the enduring defeat of Isil. The group is still attempting to re-establish regional networks and remains a local, regional and global threat. Maj Gen Gedney also warned that as Isil lost control of the territory it held in Syria and Iraq, it will try to “vanish” into the population before transforming itself into a more traditional insurgency. Isil “will attempt to mount some form of insurgency, we believe. It is an adaptive and patient enemy,” he said. “We know they may attempt to work in smaller cells, and they most certainly will continue attempting their acts of terror.” Extrajudicial execution of suspected Isil fighters in Mosul  Jim Mattis, US Defense Secretary, has said the US military will fight Isil in Syria “as long as they want to fight." He said the their longer-term objective would be to prevent the return of an "ISIS 2.0." Maj Gen Gedney emphasised that, at present, the “decisive part” of the campaign is “the non-military lines of effort,” particularly, “the immediate stabilisation that will show the people of Iraq and Syria that they’re better off under their legitimate governments than they are under IS.”



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