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'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.

Children sit at a back of a truck near the village of Baghouz, Deir Al Zor province, Syria February 27, 2019. REUTERS/Rodi Said
Children sit at a back of a truck near the village of Baghouz, Deir Al Zor province, Syria February 27, 2019. REUTERS/Rodi Said
A fighter of Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) sits on a vehicle near the village of Baghouz, Deir Al Zor province, Syria February 27, 2019. REUTERS/Rodi Said
A fighter of Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) sits on a vehicle near the village of Baghouz, Deir Al Zor province, Syria February 27, 2019. REUTERS/Rodi Said
A woman sits as she holds her baby near the village of Baghouz, Deir Al Zor province, Syria February 27, 2019. REUTERS/Rodi Said
A woman sits as she holds her baby near the village of Baghouz, Deir Al Zor province, Syria February 27, 2019. REUTERS/Rodi Said
A girl takes a stack of bread from a fighter of Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) near the village of Baghouz, Deir Al Zor province, Syria February 27, 2019. REUTERS/Rodi Said
A girl takes a stack of bread from a fighter of Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) near the village of Baghouz, Deir Al Zor province, Syria February 27, 2019. REUTERS/Rodi Said
Women stand at a back of a truck near the village of Baghouz, Deir Al Zor province, Syria February 27, 2019. REUTERS/Rodi Said
Women stand at a back of a truck near the village of Baghouz, Deir Al Zor province, Syria February 27, 2019. REUTERS/Rodi Said
An Algerian woman in a full-face veil, who joined the Islamic State in Syria four years ago, is seen near the village of Baghouz, Deir Al Zor province, Syria February 26, 2019. REUTERS/Rodi Said
An Algerian woman in a full-face veil, who joined the Islamic State in Syria four years ago, is seen near the village of Baghouz, Deir Al Zor province, Syria February 26, 2019. REUTERS/Rodi Said
Women sit with their children near the village of Baghouz, Deir Al Zor province, Syria February 26, 2019. REUTERS/Rodi Said
Women sit with their children near the village of Baghouz, Deir Al Zor province, Syria February 26, 2019. REUTERS/Rodi Said
A girl looks on, near the village of Baghouz, Deir Al Zor province, Syria February 26, 2019. REUTERS/Rodi Said
A girl looks on, near the village of Baghouz, Deir Al Zor province, Syria February 26, 2019. REUTERS/Rodi Said
Women walk with their belongings near the village of Baghouz, Deir Al Zor province, Syria February 26, 2019. REUTERS/Rodi Said
Women walk with their belongings near the village of Baghouz, Deir Al Zor province, Syria February 26, 2019. REUTERS/Rodi Said
Children stand together near the village of Baghouz, Deir Al Zor province, Syria February 26, 2019. REUTERS/Rodi Said
Children stand together near the village of Baghouz, Deir Al Zor province, Syria February 26, 2019. REUTERS/Rodi Said
Trucks loaded with civilians ride near the village of Baghouz, Deir Al Zor province, Syria February 25, 2019. REUTERS/Rodi Said
Trucks loaded with civilians ride near the village of Baghouz, Deir Al Zor province, Syria February 25, 2019. REUTERS/Rodi Said
Children sit together near the village of Baghouz, Deir Al Zor province, Syria February 25, 2019. REUTERS/Rodi Said
Children sit together near the village of Baghouz, Deir Al Zor province, Syria February 25, 2019. REUTERS/Rodi Said
Fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) dance near the village of Baghouz, Deir Al Zor province, Syria February 25, 2019. REUTERS/Rodi Said
Fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) dance near the village of Baghouz, Deir Al Zor province, Syria February 25, 2019. REUTERS/Rodi Said
A boy looks at the camera, near the village of Baghouz, Deir Al Zor province, Syria February 25, 2019. REUTERS/Rodi Said
A boy looks at the camera, near the village of Baghouz, Deir Al Zor province, Syria February 25, 2019. REUTERS/Rodi Said
A fighter from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) helps a woman near the village of Baghouz, Deir Al Zor province, Syria February 25, 2019. REUTERS/Rodi Said
A fighter from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) helps a woman near the village of Baghouz, Deir Al Zor province, Syria February 25, 2019. REUTERS/Rodi Said
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