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US-led coalition destroys Syrian mosque used as Daesh command center

Published: December 16, 2018
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The US-led coalition in Syria destroyed on Saturday a mosque in the town of Hajin which had been used as an Daesh command and control center, the US military said.

Hajin is the last big town that the Daesh holds in its remaining enclave east of the Euphrates River. The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, spearheaded by the Kurdish militia, have battled to eliminate the militants there for several months.

The US coalition said that 16 heavily armed Daesh fighters were using the mosque as a base to attack. “This strike killed these terrorists who presented an imminent threat, and eliminated another deadly ISIS (Daesh) operational capability from the battlefield,” the US military said in a statement.

Lilwa al-Abdallah, spokeswoman for the offensive in eastern Deir al-Zor province, said on Friday that the coalition would soon re-take Hajin.

Daesh lost nearly all the territory it once held in Syria last year in separate offensives by the US-backed SDF on the one hand, and the Russian-backed Syrian army on the other.

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The U.S.-led coalition in Syria has been accused of using white phosphorus incendiary munitions for the fourth time since mid-September.  White phosphorus is banned internationally when used in areas with civilian populations.

In early September, the Kurdish YPG launched an offensive against a pair of towns in northeastern Syria termed the “last” ISIS-held territory. Officials claim 211 ISIS and 113 Kurds have been killed since then. US Marines are now being sent into the area to join the ground offensive. Previously, the US was offering only air support. This is the first ground troop deployment of this latest military push.

Iran said the missile attack it launched in Syria on Monday had killed 40 “top leaders” of Daesh, and that intelligence for the operation had been provided by its elite Quds Force, Reuters reports. Iran fired six missiles at targets in the Abu Kamal and Hajin regions in eastern Syria, in retaliation for an attack on a military parade in Iran on Sept. 22 that killed 25 people, nearly half of the members of its Revolutionary Guards.

The United States said on Friday it had secured $300 million from coalition partners to help stabilise parts of Syria retaken from Daesh, after President Donald Trump demanded that allies help carry the costs of the war. The State Department said it would redirect $230 million in frozen funding for Syria to other unspecified foreign policy priorities, while emphasising that the move did not signal a retreat by Washington from the Syrian conflict.

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