Published: Sun, February 10, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Final battle: US-backed Syria force announces final push against IS

Final battle: US-backed Syria force announces final push against IS

The jihadists are now clinging on to a small sliver of land near the village of Baghouz in eastern Syria and many residents are fleeing and turning themselves in ahead of a final offensive.

The remaining Islamic State territory in Syria is west of the Euphrates.

The besieged Islamic State enclave centered around Baghouz on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River represents the jihadist group's last territorial foothold in the part of Syria where the USA -backed forces have been fighting it.

USA officials caution, however, that driving the Islamic State out of its territory would not end the threat it poses.

"They got wind of it just in time", an intelligence official said. But activists and residents say Isis still has sleeper cells in Syria and Iraq, and is laying the groundwork for an insurgency. Turkey's plan envisages Ankara's control of the Manbij area and a 30-35-kilometre (18-22 mile) buffer zone in Syria along the Turkish border.

The U.S. military presence in Syria has offered the Kurds a measure of protection against any Turkish offensive.

Syrian opposition activists say Islamic State militants have attacked USA -backed fighters near an oil field in the country's east, triggering airstrikes by the US -led coalition.

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At least 48 suspected ISIS members were among them, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

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

The Observatory said over 37,000 civilians, including tens of IS militants, have fled the last IS-held pocket to areas controlled by the SDF in the eastern Euphrates area since last December. They have been escorted to camps where they are screened for ties to the militants. "This was the foreign fighter element, some of his most trusted people".

Many of them are foreigners who can't blend in with the locals to escape, according to SDF and US officials.

"Remnants - that's all they have, remnants - but remnants can be very risky", Trump said.

The leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has survived an attempted coup last month by foreign fighters in eastern Syria, The Jerusalem Post reported.

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