Published: Mon, February 11, 2019
Global Media | By Garry Long

SDF Says to Target Last ISIS Syria Enclave After Civilians Get Evacuated

SDF Says to Target Last ISIS Syria Enclave After Civilians Get Evacuated

US-backed fighters in Syria say they are meeting fierce resistance as they attack the last enclave held by Islamic State (IS) militants in the country.

The SDF had handled the last 10 days "patiently" as more than 20,000 civilians were evacuated from the besieged IS enclave, Bali said. The US-backed fighters foiled an ISIS counter-attack at around 4.00am local time, according to Mr Bali, who said "heavy fighting" was taking place inside the last village.

The SDF, backed by air strikes carried out of the US-led coalition, has driven out IS from towns and villages in north-eastern Syria in recent months.

The fight, characterized as the "last battle", aims to "eliminate the last remnants of the terrorist organization".

Citing current and former US officials, the Wall Street Journal reported that the USA military was preparing to withdraw its forces from Syria by the end of April and a significant portion of them would be out by the middle of March.

The YPG fighter, who did not wish to be named, said spotting ISIS militants hidden among the thousands of fleeing civilians is proving hard.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said earlier this week that there was still little clarity on the details of the Trump administration's planned withdrawal from Syria and the creation of a "safe zone" in the northeastern part of the country.

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However, he said these tactics would not succeed, since the SDF is focused on finding Islamic State fighters in hiding, while Iraqi forces have secured the border to ensure the extremists can not enter Iraq.

The SDF holds hundreds of foreigners accused of belonging to the extremist group in its custody, as well as members of their families.

At the time, Trump announced the withdrawal of 2,000 USA troops from the conflict-ridden Middle Eastern country. The strategy, which the group deployed in Mosul and elsewhere, is presenting a real challenge, SDF commanders said.

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.

That figure includes some 3,400 suspected jihadists detained by the SDF, according to the monitor, which relies on sources inside Syria for its information.

The coalition and allied Kurdish forces have captured "approximately 99.5 per cent" of IS-controlled territory, he said in a statement.

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