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Islamic State Jihadist Commander ‘surrenders’ to Kurdish-led rebels near Manbij in Syria

Bahraini jihadist Abu Abdullah al-Bahreni surrendered to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)

ISIS. Wikimedia

Manbij (Syria), Jan 26, 2017: An Islamic State jihadist commander has surrendered to Kurdish-led rebels near Manbij, local news site ARA News reported on Thursday, citing military sources.

Bahraini jihadist Abu Abdullah al-Bahreni surrendered to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the town of Kifsa in northern Syria on Wednesday, ARA News quoted the sources as saying.

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Bahreni was chief of IS’s al-Hisba Islamic police force in Kifsa, ARA News said.

“After the SDF forces foiled an attempt by IS to infiltrate Manbij, a number of IS militants, headed by al-Bahreni, surrendered to the SDF,” Kurdish officer Habun Osman told ARA News.

At least seven IS militants were killed in the clashes, while the rest could have escaped but opted to surrender and handed over their weapons to the SDF, according to Osman.

Bahreni’s surrender to the SDF showed “the helplessness of the terrorist group in continuing the fight against our forces in northern Syria,” an SDF spokesman said, quoted by ARA News.

The US-backed SDF liberated Manbij and the surrounding countryside in mid-August last year.

The ethnically diverse city had served for over two years as an IS stronghold on the Syrian-Turkish border. (IANS)

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US Backtracks on Iraqi, Kurd Cease-fire Claim

An Iraqi soldier removes a Kurdish flag from Altun Kupri
An Iraqi soldier removes a Kurdish flag from Altun Kupri on the outskirts of Irbil, Iraq. VOA

Iraq, October 27: The U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State announced Friday morning a cease-fire between Iraqi forces and the Kurdish Peshmerga in Northern Iraq but quickly backtracked on the claim, saying it is not an “official” cease-fire.

Army spokesman Ryan Dillon posted a clarification on Twitter to say “both parties (are) talking with one another,” but that a “cease-fire” had not been reached.

The Iraqi military and the Kurdish minority have been clashing for several weeks after the Iraqi troops moved to secure areas in northern Iraq that had been seized from IS jihadists by Kurdish forces. The Kurdish forces abandoned the land largely without resistance, though low-level clashes have been reported.

Iraqi PM rejects Kurdish offer

The areas Iraqi forces are moving into were mostly under Baghdad’s control in 2014, when Islamic State militants swept into the region. Kurdish Peshmerga and coalition forces recaptured the lands, and the Kurdistan Region has since held them.

The Iraqi leadership said it is retaking the areas to establish federal authority after a Kurdish referendum for independence in September threatened the nation’s unity. More than 92 percent of Kurds in Iraq voted “yes” in a vote Baghdad called illegal, and the international community leaders said was dangerous and ill-timed.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Thursday rejected an offer by Kurdish leaders to freeze the results of their independence referendum in favor of dialogue in order to avoid further conflict.

The Kurdistan Regional Government, in a statement, said the confrontations have hurt both sides and could lead to ongoing bloodshed and social unrest in Iraq.

“Certainly, continued fighting does not lead any side to victory, but it will drive the country towards disarray and chaos, affecting all aspects of life,” the KRG said.

‘Unified Iraq is the only way to go’

Abadi said in a statement his government will accept only the annulment of the referendum and respect for the constitution.

During a briefing Friday morning at the Pentagon, Joint Staff Director Lieutenant General Kenneth McKenzie Jr. told reporters the U.S. believes “a unified Iraq is the only way to go forward.”

He added, “We’re not helping anyone attack anyone else inside Iraq, either the Kurds or the Iraqis.”(VOA)

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