'This isn't over': Islamic State loyalties linger despite defeat
Updated : February 28, 2019 02:08 PM IST
Having joined Islamic State in Syria four years ago, the Algerian woman only abandoned the jihadists' last scrap of the besieged territory when her daughter was shot in the leg.
"I don't regret it, even now ... If my daughter was not injured, I would have stayed," said the woman, speaking behind a full face veil as her 19-year-old daughter lay on a mattress nearby unable to walk.
At a checkpoint operated by US-backed forces some 30 km (20 miles) from Islamic State's last enclave at Baghouz, a village on the Euphrates, she described her faith in a movement that once held and terrorised large swathes of Syria and Iraq.
"Even if I'm here because I have no choice, I still believe, and I know this isn't over," added the woman, who finally joined the exodus from Baghouz on Monday evening.
The pro-Islamic State loyalties among evacuees showed the potential risk it still poses despite the territorial defeat.
The militants once redrew the map of the region with a cross-border "caliphate" amounting to roughly a third of Iraq and Syria. But this has shrunk to Baghouz - a collection of hamlets and farmland - since they lost the bulk of their territory in 2017.
The group has been adapting for some time and has mounted a spate of guerrilla-style attacks in Syria of late.