News of an American pullout from Syria on Wednesday raised many questions about whether the Islamic State (ISIS) has been truly defeated.
According to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, ISIS remains capable of murder on an industrial scale, because it has executed 700 prisoners in Syria over the past two months.
Hurriyet Daily News cited the Observatory’s estimate that ISIS is still holding almost 1,350 prisoners in its greatly diminished territory along the border with Iraq. About 5,000 ISIS fighters are estimated to remain active in the area.
A U.S. official said on Saturday that coalition efforts to defeat the Islamic State in its last Syrian enclave are “going very well” and the “end days” for ISIS are approaching, but warned the terrorist gang retains “the capability for coordinated attacks.”
Successful penetration of the ISIS stronghold in the city of Hajin by the U.S.-backed, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces is seen by the coalition as a major setback for the Islamic State, thwarting a counter-offensive launched by ISIS in September. Almost a thousand ISIS fighters have been killed in the past few months of fighting, along with 545 SDF fighters and numerous civilians.
Seven mass graves containing hundreds of bodies were discovered last week in the former ISIS stronghold of Albu Kamal in eastern Syria, according to the Syrian state news agency SANA. The bodies were said to display signs of “torture and ill-treatment before execution.” Some of the corpses recovered from the mass graves were said to be women.