Kurdish-led forces ready for push on last ISIS pocket
Kurdish-led forces ready for push on last ISIS pocket
US to pull forces out of Syria by end of April: Report
10 February, 2019, 08:28
US -backed forces in Syria announced the beginning Saturday of the possible final battle for the last village controlled by the Islamic State.
As Kurdish forces prepare to advance o the ISIS-held enclave, more than 20,000 civilians have been evacuated, an SDF official said.
Balli said the battle aims to eliminate all remaining ISIL militants in Baghouz.
SDF spokesman Mustefa Bali told AFP on Wednesday that his group is detaining foreign IS fighters on a "daily basis".
The jihadists are now clinging on to a small sliver of land near the village of Baghouz in eastern Syria and many residents are fleeing and turning themselves in ahead of a final offensive.
Four years ago, IS controlled territory the size of Britain and administered millions of people, but the US-led coalition fighting the group says "99.5 percent" of it has been clawed back in successive offensives.
The Kurdish-Arab militia - backed by United States air strikes - have now resumed the fight to take the last four-square-kilometre (one-square-mile) patch of territory in eastern Syria's Deir az-Zour from IS.
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Thousands of suspected ISIS fighters have attempted to blend in with civilians fleeing the jihadists' last bastion, including a large number of foreigners.
Scores of IS fighters are now besieged in two villages, or less than once per cent of the self-styled caliphate that once sprawled across large parts of Syria and Iraq.
The Islamic State (IS) group is far from defeated, and is morphing into an asymmetrical warfare force after the militant group lost nearly all of the territory it once controlled in Syria, German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned on Friday.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said since the SDF began its offensive against ISIS in the area on September 10, about 1279 ISIS gunmen and 678 SDF fighters have been killed.
"Currently, ISIS is regenerating key functions and capabilities more quickly in Iraq than in Syria, but absent sustained [counterterrorism] pressure, ISIS could likely resurge in Syria within six to twelve months and regain limited territory", the report added, quoting officials with the U.S. Central Command.
Bali did not say how long they expecte the battle to last.
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