Backed Syrian Forces to Start ‘Final Battle’ Against Is Enclave

12 February, 2019, 03:09 | Author: Rachel Logan
  • Islamic State chief escapes death as his fighters turn on him: report

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have started the final attacks against the Islamic State (IS) militant group in eastern Syria, Kurdish activists reported.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a group that monitors human rights abuses in Syria, said SDF forces are moving "cautiously" because of ISIS-planted mines.

One big question has been whether some US forces in Syria might move to neighboring Iraq, where the United States has more than 5,000 troops helping Baghdad fight ISIS and prevent the group's resurgence.

Backed by airstrikes of the USA -led coalition against IS, the Kurdish-Arab alliance has in recent months cornered the jihadis in a final pocket of territory in Syria's eastern province of Deir Ezzor.

The U.S. -backed Syrian Democratic Forces launched an attack over the weekend to capture the final territory in Syria under Islamic State control.

In recent weeks, USA officials have said IS has lost 99.5 percent of its territory and is holding on to under 5 square kilometers (under 2 square miles), where most of the fighters are concentrated in Syria.

Mr Ghika said warplanes had bombed a media centre used by fanatics in Syria recently, with ISIS reduced to a tiny sliver of territory within the country. Special Operations forces working alongside the SDF fighters will be particularly keen on establishing whether any key Islamic State leaders are still holed up in Baghouz, including perhaps the Islamic State's leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. U.S.

With hundreds of civilians fleeing this week before the SDF assault, it is unclear how many people remained in the town Saturday. It said US -led coalition warplanes are giving cover to advancing SDF fighters.

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On Monday, the Observatory said 13 ISIL militants, including five suicide attackers, were killed as well as six SDF fighters.

On Monday, dozens of coalition and SDF fighters were stationed at a screening point for new arrivals from IS areas. Trump said last week he had been told that the full territorial conquest to defeat the Islamic State could be completed in the coming week.

At least 16 people, including seven children, have been killed in an airstrike launched by the US-led coalition in a rural region south east of the Syrian city of Deir-ez Zor, Syrian news agency SANA reports.

Votel is one of many current and former US officials who have warned of the risk of a resurgence by ISIS unless the United States and its allies can keep pressure on the group following the USA withdrawal.

While the SDF has warned that it is unable to detain growing numbers of ISIS fighters and their families long term, watchdog organisation Human Rights Watch has warned that the rendition of prisoners to Iraq to face trial risks breaching global and domestic laws. They say ISIS still has enough leaders, fighters, facilitators and financial resources to fuel a menacing insurgency.

D'Agata has seen the fighting from eastern Syria, even being forced to run from ISIS bombs just last week.

A top USA commander has issued a warning saying there are "tens of thousands" of ISIS fighters spread across Syria and Iraq.



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