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Backed Syrian force launches 'final battle' against IS enclave

12 February, 2019, 03:07 | Author: Ted Wilson
  • Islamic State chief escapes death as his fighters turn on him: report

The U.S. -backed Syrian Democratic Forces on Saturday launched a final push to clear the area from ISIS under the cover of airstrikes by the U.S. -backed coalition.

Civilians who have fled fighting in Baghuz wait to board trucks after being screened by members of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

Some jihadists have been donning hijabs, a veil worn by Muslim women, and other feminine garments in a bid to trick SDF officials. Some civilians are believed to be still in the area.

Global Affairs Canada said in an e-mail statement to CBC News that it is "aware of Canadian citizens being detained in Syria", but its ability to provide consular assistance is "extremely limited" given the security situation on the ground.

More than 23,000 Syrian civilians and foreign nationals fled eastern Syria this past week as the SDF, which includes Kurdish YPG militia fighters, prepared to move on IS in Deir el-Zour governorate, according to local officials and activists. But holed up in tunnels, trenches, and houses around Baghouz are an estimated 600 diehard ISIS fighters.

"It was a really tough clash and they excommunicated the losers. They were mainly Tunisians and there were many people killed".

He explained: "They are recycling old photographs and recycling old material".

"I saw him with my own eyes", Jumah Hamdi Hamdan, 53, told the United Kingdom outlet of al-Baghdadi. "The sticking point between us and the U.S.is [their] choice of allies. There's only one place they can be".

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Moscow hopes that Damascus and the Kurds will manage to find a solution regarding the eastern bank of the Euphrates that would guarantee Syria's sovereignty and territorial integrity, Russian Ambassador to Damascus Alexander Yefimov told Sputnik in an interview.

The UK Ministry of Defence told Daily Star Online that 99% of ISIS-held territory has been liberated, with the final 1% expected to be captured this month or next.

USA officials have said in recent weeks that the IS group has lost 99.5 percent of its territory and is holding onto fewer than 5 square kilometres in Syria, or less than 2 square miles, where the bulk of the fighters are concentrated.

SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali on Sunday afternoon said his fighters had battled their way forward against the militants, capturing 41 positions from them.

Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared the group's "caliphate" in 2014 in territory stretching across Iraq and Syria.

But ISIS steadily lost ground and capitulated after its two main prizes - the Syrian city of Raqqa and Iraq's Mosul - fell in 2017.

Votel was definitive that all U.S. troops will leave Syria, but he wouldn't put a public timeline on when the move would be completed, CNN reported.

The Pentagon is preparing to pull all US forces out of Syria by the end of April, even though the Trump administration has yet to come up with a plan to protect its Kurdish partners from attack when they leave, current and former USA officials said.

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