Backed Syrian force launches 'final battle' against IS enclave

Backed Syrian force launches 'final battle' against IS enclave

He reports ground forces backed by USA and coalition airstrikes launched an offensive over the weekend to rid the last remnants of ISIS from the only foothold they have left.

It follows an earlier comment by SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali that an offensive on IS had been briefly frozen to allow civilians to escape the so-called Hajin pocket.

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces will begin their final showdown with ISIS in Syria Saturday, an SDF official told Reuters.

The Turkish minister said he met during his stay in Washington with Chairman of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations James Risch and a number of other members to discuss the latest developments in northern Syria.

Trump is moving ahead with his plan to withdraw 2,000 US troops from Syria, despite warnings from USA military and security experts that militants in Iraq and Syria could prepare an insurgency if USA -led forces back off.

IS overran large parts of Syria and neighbouring Iraq in 2014, declaring a "caliphate" in areas it controlled.

CBS News correspondent Charlie D'Agata reports on Monday ISIS fighters launched a fierce counterattack from the village of Baghuz Fawqani, seizing back territory from Kurdish-led forces.

ISIL still retains a presence in Syria's vast Badia desert and has claimed a series of deadly attacks by sleeper cells in SDF-held areas.


More than 20,000 civilians have left the ISIS-held area in recent weeks. And foreign fighters continue to arrive, undeterred - an estimated 50 per month.

Bali said there were "dozens of SDF hostages held by IS" inside their last foothold, but denied reports of executions.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported "heavy clashes" between both sides on the morning of February 10, as planes of the USA -led coalition and artillery bombarded militant positions.

USA officials and Trump's own military advisers, however, have warned that losing its territorial hold does not mean that the Islamic State group is defeated, warning that IS could stage a comeback in Syria within six months to a year if the military and counterterrorism pressure on it is eased.

In a reminder that the militants have the capability to mount attacks well beyond the front lines, assailants on motorcycles on Saturday tried to storm a base shared by the USA military and the SDF at the Omar oil field, around 60 miles north of the village where the militants are making their last stand.

In that time, more than 1,200 IS militants, more than 670 SDF fighters, and around 400 civilians have been killed in the fighting, the Observatory says.

The official also warned that the Islamic State would benefit from any USA withdrawal of over 2,000 troops from Syria.

The Kurds have largely stayed out of Syria's almost eight-year civil war, instead focusing on building their own semi-autonomous institutions in the northeast of the country.

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