Too early to be celebrating the 'defeat of ISIS' - analyst

It is safe to say that  defeat of the Islamic State (ISIS), as announced by the U.S.-backed Kurdish majority Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on Saturday, is a premature announcement that is far from being true, wrote Robert Fisk, a veteran Middle East correspondent for the Independent.

The coalition of Kurdish and Arab soldiers backed by US, British and French special forces said it defeated ISIS and fully liberated its last stronghold of Baghouz in eastern Syria on Saturday.

Noting that it is no just the continual fighting around Baghouz that leads him to remain skeptical, Fisk noted that ‘’there are plenty of Isis fighters still under arms and ready to fight in the Syrian province of Idlib, along with their Hayat Tahrir al Sham, al-Nusra and al-Qaeda comrades – almost surrounded by Syrian government troops but with a narrow corridor in which they could escape to Turkey; always supposing that Sultan Erdoğan will let them.’’

Fisk pointed specifically to Syria’s Idlib, which has been dumping ground of all Syria’s Islamist enemies for the last three years, as a troubled spot sure to create problems.

‘’A complicated truce agreement, involving both the Turks and the Russians,’’ managed to forestall carnage in Idlib, which everyone predicted, he stressed, however,  Isis, al-Nusra and al-Qaeda men – some of whom are Saudis –  are still in Idlib.

While noting that is a good time for the Americans to call it a day outside Baghouz  ‘’and get the hell out,’’ in hopes that the world will forget about Idlib, Fisk said that this is not likely to be the case while highlighting that the Syrian war is not yet over.

‘’Idlib remains a land of tens of thousands of refugees as well as legions of fighters, a place of destitution, broken railways and blown-up motorways and Islamist groups who sometimes fight each other with more enthusiasm than they wish to fight the Syrian military,’’ Fisk said.

As Moscow now prepares to show how to defeat ISIS, Fisk wrote, ‘’there is still just a chance that Isis, Nusra/al-Qaeda and their comrades will be able to leave unharmed,’’ despite strong signals that they may yet have to fight a real last battle for Idlib.
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