The main forces of ISIS fled to Libya and southwestern Asia after they had been defeated in Syria, the chief of the Russian General Staff, Army Gen. Valery Gerasimov, said in an interview with the Komsomolskaya Pravda daily.
“Some of them return to countries, from which they illegally arrived. The bulk of them flees to Libya, to southwestern Asian countries,” the general said adding that certain groups of terrorists flee to Afghanistan, where “conditions are favorable for them.”
Gerasimov also noted that the eliminating of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) and political settlement in the country will be among the key tasks of the Russian forces in Syria in 2018.
In the same interview, the chief of the staff said that soome members of the ISIS are now are undergoing training at the US Al-Tanf military base in southeastern Syria. Militant groups are deplooyed in the US Al-Shaddadi camp in northeastern Syria.
“This base in Syria’s south is located within an area with a radius of 55 kilometers. It lies on the border of Syria, Jordan and Iraq. According to space intelligence and other sources, groups of militants stay there. De-facto, they train there,” Gerasimov said. “Their task is to destabilize the situation. We know that about 400 people from the Shaddadi camp left for the Al-Tanf region. When the main forces of the ISIL [the former name of the Islamic State group] were defeated, they attempted to destabilize the situation by launching an offensive from the eastern bank of the Euphrates River, but sustained serious losses.”
Gerasimov revealed that about 750 militants stay at Shaddadi and some 350 – in Al-Tanf. The general emphasized that the US has so far failed to offer any explanation for keeping is military presence at the Al-Tanf base after the defeat of ISIS.