by WorldTribune Staff, June 5, 2017
The Islamic State (ISIS) caliphate continues to crumble in Iraq with the surrender of the town of Baaj.
ISIS’s withdrawal from Baaj leaves just a pocket of Mosul and the town of Bukamal as the only remaining urban centers in the country under the terror group’s control.
Bukamal is expected to be a new focus of the U.S.-led coalition and Iran-backed forces, observers said.
Baaj, in northwest Iraq, was a known hideout of the terrorist group’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, according to reports.
The few remaining ISIS jihadists fled Baaj on June 3, allowing Shia militia forces to enter unopposed, a statement from the Popular Mobilization Front said.
“The Iraqi flag has been hoisted above its buildings,” the statement announcing the “total liberation” of Baaj said.
The Popular Mobilization Front is an umbrella organization for pro-government paramilitaries that is dominated by Iran-backed Shia militias.
A source who saw Baghdadi in Bukamal earlier this year told the UK’s Guardian the terror leader was “thin and stooped.” The source said Baghdadi was traveling with a small security detail in a convoy of four cars and spent only minutes in public before being escorted away.
Meanwhile, U.S.-backed Kurdish troops are now within sight of Raqqa on three sides of the city and the battle to retake the city is likely to start sometime this month, reports said.