Published: Tue, February 12, 2019
Global Media | By Jackie Banks

Backed forces advance in fierce clashes with ISIL in Syria

Backed forces advance in fierce clashes with ISIL in Syria

A Syrian war monitoring group and a Kurdish news agency say fierce fighting is underway between US -backed Syrian forces and Islamic State militants around the extremists' last foothold in eastern Syria.

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.

Black smoke clouds rose over ISIL's final territory in Deir Az Zor province on Monday as coalition fighter jets fired missiles in support of the Kurdish-led militia known as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). More than 20,000 civilians were evacuated in the ten days leading up to Saturday, he said.

"The SDF has launched its final battle to eliminate the terrorist ISIS organization in Al-Baghouz village; the last ISIS stronghold", the SDF said in a statement.

Syrian state media claimed a US -led coalition airstrike near Baghouz killed two women and two children.

The ISIL militants were said to retaliate with heart-seeking missiles, which hit one SDF vehicle, bringing two soldiers dead and several injured.

With the so-called caliphate crumbling on the ground, ISIS is looking to ramp up its internet operation in a bid to "reassert" themselves online, General Christopher Ghika said.

Near her coffin, a mourner held up a doll dressed in a bridal gown, part of tradition for young women fighters who die before they are married.

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

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It said the USA -led coalition struck positions of the IS in the eastern Euphrates to practice more pressure on the group.

President Donald Trump, who prematurely declared victory over ISIS in December, predicted earlier this week that ISIS will lose the last of its territory by next week.

"It should be formally announced sometime, probably next week, that we will have 100 percent of the caliphate", Trump told representatives of the 79-member, USA -led coalition fighting IS.

A senior USA official told Daily Sabah that "we are as committed as the Turkish government to the full implementation of the Manbij road map".

American, French and British forces are now operating in the area around Baghouz Al-Fawqani, supporting the SDF.

Before the assault began, civilians fled the town. But in an interview with The Daily Mail, he said Britain and its allies were hunting down the online jihadis. ISIL is also using civilians as human shields, the Observatory said.

In remarks on the sidelines of a meeting of foreign ministers in Washington as part of the global coalition to defeat ISIS, Cavusoglu considered the U.S. pullout from Iraq without coordination or planning as the source of problems in the Middle East.

"We, as the SDF, think that dealing with and finishing off the Islamic State militarily was the easy step, but now comes the more challenging phase".

In the years since, the group's annual revenue has more than halved: from up to $1.9b in 2014 to a maximum of $870m in 2016, according to a recent report by the International Centre for the Study of Radlicalisation and Political Violence (ICSR) at King's College London.

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