A U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) Humvee stands by as a truck that is part of a convoy evacuating hundreds out of the last territory held by Islamic State militants, passes in Baghouz, eastern Syria, Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019. The evacuation signals the end of a week long standoff and opens the way to U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) recapture the territory. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

The Latest: Officials try to verify French IS member's death

February 21, 2019 - 11:54 am

BEIRUT (AP) — The Latest on developments in Syria (all times local):

6:30 p.m.

Two officials say they are trying to verify reports that Fabien Clain, a Frenchman who is one of Europe's most-wanted members of Islamic State group, has died in an airstrike in Syria.

A French diplomatic official and an official with U.S.-backed Syrian forces say verifications are underway amid a standoff over the final sliver of land held by IS in southeastern Syria, close to the Iraqi border.

Clain is considered a key figure in the 2015 attacks in Paris, and it was his voice that claimed responsibility in the name of Islamic State for the deadly onslaught in his home country.

Neither official would be named, given the ongoing verifications in the village of Baghouz.

A U.S. military spokesman said the coalition could not confirm the reports.

By Lori Hinnant and Sarah El Deeb.


6:10 p.m.

A commander with a U.S.-backed Syrian force says back-to-back suicide car bombings in a market in eastern Syria have killed at least 14 people.

Adnan Afrin says the two blasts went off Thursday evening in the village of Shahil, about 10 kilometers (6 miles) from the al-Omar Oil Field base in the Deir el-Zour province. He says two suicide bombers stopped their cars and detonated the vehicles in the market.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported a car bomb that was detonated remotely as a convoy that includes workers and technicians who work at the oil field was passing. The Britain-based war monitor said 20 were killed and others wounded.

The explosions came Thursday as the Kurdish-led forces backed by the U.S. are besieging IS militants in the last speck of territory they control in eastern Syria.


10:50 a.m.

An Iraqi security official says the U.S.-backed Syrian forces fighting the Islamic State group in Syria have handed over more than 150 Iraqi members of the group to Iraq.

The official says the IS militants were handed over to the Iraqi side overnight, and that they were now in a "safe place" and being investigated.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

The handover comes as the U.S.-backed Syrian forces are involved in a standoff over the final IS-held sliver of land in southeastern Syria, close to the Iraqi border amid the extremists' imminent territorial defeat.

Earlier this month, Iraqi Prime Minister Abdul-Mahdi said Iraq will take back all Iraqi IS members, as well as thousands of their family members.

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