UPSC Current Affairs – 24-03-2019

Why in News?

The fall of Baghouz brings to a close a nearly five-year global campaign against the Islamic State that raged in two countries, spanned two U.S. presidencies and saw a U.S.-led coalition unleash more than 1,00,000 strikes. But sleeper cells of group are still active.

In Brief:

The campaign has left a trail of destruction in cities in Iraq and Syria, likely killed tens of thousands and drove hundreds of thousands from their homes.
It put an end to the militants’ proto-state, which at its height four years ago was the size of Britain and home to some eight million people. But the extremist group still maintains a scattered presence and sleeper cells across Syria and Iraq. It is not known whether the group’s
leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is still alive or where he might be hiding.

Lone-wolf attacks

  • IS affiliates in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, Afghanistan and other countries continue to pose a threat, and the group’s ideology has inspired so-called
  • lone-wolf attacks that had little if any connection to its leadership.

  • The end of the ‘caliphate’ also marks a new phase in Syria’s civil war, now in its ninth year.
  • The country is carved up, with the Iranian-and Russian-backed government of President Bashar al-Assad controlling the west, centre and south, the U.S.-backed Kurdish-led forces holding the north and east, and Turkish allies controlling a pocket in the north. The fear now is of new conflict
    among those players.
  • The Commander-in-Chief of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) has appealed for continued assistance to his group until the full
    eradication of the extremist group. He spoke at the ceremony during which fighters marched to a military band.
    Withdrawal of the American Forces:
  • President Donald Trump is yet to begin withdrawing most of the 2,000 U.S. troops stationed in northern Syria, as he abruptly announced
    in December that he would do.
  • Mr. Trump, however, later agreed to leave a small peacekeeping force of 200 soldiers in Syria to ensure Turkey will not get into a conflict
    with the Kurdish-led SDF.

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