RAQQA (ANF) – It has been claimed that ISIS leader al-Baghdadi is associated with a very small number of members within the organization and therefore only a very few people have information about him.
In the past few years, a number of people said to be closed to the ISIS leader have said to have been seen in this or other area, which makes even more complicated establishing where al-Bagdadi is hidden.
Iyad al-Jamili, who is considered one of the man closest to Baghdadi, has been seen in the vicinity of Hajin, in Bukemal and Mayan cities, in the past two years. This situation certainly gives a clue but there is another data that strengthens the possibility that Baghdadi may be in the region.
According to one controversial Islamic interpretation, it is necessary for a person to control a certain piece of land in order to be regarded as a caliph which would explain why in the videos published by ISIS, gang members still refer to al-Baghdadi as “our shaykh”.
Al-Baghdadi was first and last seen in Mosul in 2014. In these images, which was taken after the occupation of Mosul, al-Baghdadi proclaimed his calm. Since then, numerous claims have been made of al-Baghdadi being killed or wounded.
However, suspicions that he was indeed dead, were weakened after the ISIS mercenaries broadcast a voice recording allegedly belonging to al-Baghdadi on 28 September 2017.
The Russian Defense Ministry says there is no conclusive evidence of al-Baghdadi’s death, while the US continues to award $ 25 million for his capture.
Hiding in Hajin?
Abu Ali al-Basri, Director of Intelligence and Fighting Bureau of the Iraqi Interior Ministry announced that al-Baghdadi may have been hiding in the Syrian town of Hajin.
Many terrorist experts, including researcher and Iraqi war media secretary Said al-Ceyyasi, think al-Baghdadi is indeed hiding in Syria near the Iraqi border, in ISIS-occupied territory.
Al-Ceyyasi argues that if Baghdad is alive, the best place to hide would be on the Iraq-Syrian border, along the Euphrates river.
Hisham al-Hashimi, a consultant for the Baghdad administration and a specialist in “jihadist groups” in Iraq, says that the place where Baghdadi hides is the region he called “Euphrates Province”. More precisely, it refers to a place corresponding to the area in which the small town of Hajin is located.
The fact that ISIS has lost a lot of the land that was in its hands, meant the hiding options for the organization leader are also narrowing. The fact that the ISIS-controlled area south of the Euphrates river is surrounded by the Syrian army and the connection with Iraq has been interrupted, is making this region inconvenient for the leader. North of the Euphrates river, the areas controlled by ISIS are being cleared by the SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces).
Hajin town and Operation Cizire Storm
The Operation Cizire Storm is carried out by the Democratic Syrian Forces (SDF) in rural Deir ez-Zor. This move was hampered by the Turkish forces bombing and subsequent occupation of Afrin since January 20. The operation, which had been halted during the occupation of Afrin, has resumed on 1 May. SDF fighters have been deployed along the Euphrates valley and the Iraqi border, progressing about 20 kilometers since May 1st.
The SDF fighters are actually only 5 kilometers away from the village of Bagos on the border. The village of Bagos is under control of the ISIS. Being the last village on the Iraqi border it is gaining importance.
SDF commander Sêrgo Hesekê, who directs the operation, says that once this village will be taken from ISIS, the mercenaries will be completely besieged by the SDF.
Aware of the fact that the SDF were only 5 kilometers away from Hajin town, where the civilian population is the largest in the area, Hesekê said that many of the ISIS leaders were trying to hide among the civilians as a last resort.
The end of ISIS is one village away
Speaking to ANF, Hesekê said: “The area involved by the operation runs about 30 kilometers along the Euphrates River. We are about to cut the connection of ISIS with the Iraqi border. Except for the town of Hajin, there is no densely populated residential area in the region. Which is why the mercenaries are using Hajin as their headquarter. Our forces are now about 6 to 7 kilometers from the town centre and the operation is ongoing”.
Confirming that clearing this area would mean the end of ISIS, Hesekê added: “This is the last area that ISIS can use to get logistics and ammunition. We also know that most of the leaders of the organization are hidden here because they had nowhere else to go to. Therefore, we will rescue the place and declare the end of ISIS”.