Saturday, 24 August, 2019


Backed fighters launch final push to defeat IS in Syria

Map showing last IS-held territory in Syria Backed fighters launch final push to defeat IS in Syria
Bennie Garza | 10 February, 2019, 13:29

The coalition has been training and providing aerial support to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which launched an offensive on the last patch of militant territory last September.

SDF troops, led by Kurdish fighters, have been holding out for the past 10 days.

USA -backed forces in Syria announced the beginning Saturday of the possible final battle for the last village controlled by the Islamic State.

The Syrian Democratic Forces spokesman Mustafa Bali tweeted the offensive began on Saturday after more than 20,000 civilians were evacuated from the Isis-held area in the eastern province of Deir el-Zor.

Earlier in the day, a war monitor reported that negotiations are underway in eastern Syria between the USA -led forces and the IS group for the latter's withdrawal from its last redoubt.

Maj. Gen. Christopher Ghika, the coalition's deputy commander, described the size of the last IS pocket as "now less than 1 percent of the original caliphate".

The announcement comes days after the SDF said that it was opposed to the creation of a Turkey-controlled security zone in north-eastern Syria and proposed worldwide monitoring of the area.

That would herald an end to the almost five-year-old war aimed at pushing the Islamic State out of its self proclaimed "caliphate", the once vast stretch of territory spanning Syria and Iraq that at its peak was roughly the size to Britain.

In the midst of the fighting, foreign militants reportedly planned to oust Al-Baghdadi, who managed to quickly escape the town with the help of his bodyguards.

US, French, British and other forces are also actively looking for wanted IS operatives among those fleeing the combat zone with civilians.

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.

There are between 14,000 and 18,000 ISIS militants in Syria and in Iraq, including up to 3,000 foreign militants, according to a report by the sanctions monitoring team presented to the Security Council.

USA and SDF officials say, however, they have no reason to believe he is there.

It said US-led coalition's warplanes are giving cover to advancing SDF fighters.

An SDF statement said the offensive was focused on the village of Baghouz.

The Observatory said suspected ISIS sleeper cells have allegedly assassinated at least 50 civilians and 135 SDF fighters in Kurdish-held territory since August.

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