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Tue, 28 Jan 2020 18:15 GMT

US-Backed Forces Attack Last Isis Stronghold in Syria

Counterterrorism & Security

7Dnews London

Mon, 11 Mar 2019 10:23 GMT

With over 5,000 civilians evacuated from Isis's last enclave in east Syria last week, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on Sunday, March 10th, announced they were launching another assault to clear out the town of Baghouz of Isis militants.

In an early morning tweet, the Head of the SDF media office, Mustafa Bali, said the SDF, an amalgamation of Kurdish-spearheaded forces backed by the West, were in "direct violent clashes." 

According to local reports, some Isis remnants are holed up and had refused to surrender and flee the long-threatened offensive. Once the town is liberated from the terrorist presence, the US and its allies are expected to formally declare the end of the self-proclaimed Isis "caliphate". 

Bali also tweeted that "the timeline ... for Isis to surrender themselves is over" and that SDF forces were ready to "finish what is left in Isis hands." 

It is worth noting that even though the final push against the Isis hold-out was first announced in early March, the SDF and US-led Coalition said they had to slow down the offensive "due to a small number of civilians held as human shields."  

Bali, speaking to Reuters, confirmed that no civilians had come out of the town since Saturday, March 9th, which had prompted the anti-Isis coalition to resume operations. Those evacuated from Baghouz were trucked to an SDF checkpoint where they were searched, questioned and given food and water. But Bali tweeted that the fate of other hostages remained unknown, including that of Italian priest Paolo Dall'Oglio and Lebanese journalist Samir Kassab. 

Bali's announcement of the final push could be a military tactic to squeeze more civilians out of the east Syria encampment. In recent weeks, the SDF has been alternately applying military force to put pressure on militants who refuse to surrender and holding fire long enough to allow for evacuations and surrender.

Middle East