Fierce fighting and battles between IS and SDF in the Baghuoz, Deir ez-Zor

UNITED STATES (VOP TODAY NEWS) — The town of Al-Bagouz, east of Deir al-Zour province, east of Syria, has witnessed heavy fighting and fierce battles between members of the Islamic State group and the Syrian Democratic Forces supported by the international coalition forces.

US-backed Syrian forces launched an assault against the final Islamic State enclave in eastern Syria on Sunday, aiming to wipe out the last vestige of its self-declared “caliphate” that once spanned a third of Iraq and Syria.

While the Baghouz enclave represents the last shred of populated land held by the jihadists, the group is still widely seen as a big security threat operating in remote territory elsewhere and able to launch guerrilla attacks.

The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) has been poised to advance into the enclave for weeks, but has repeatedly held back to allow for the evacuation of civilians, many of them wives and children of Islamic State fighters.

Mustafa Bali, head of the SDF media office, said no further civilians had emerged from the enclave at the Iraqi border since Saturday and the SDF had not observed any more civilians in the area, prompting the decision to attack.

“The military operations have started. Our forces are now clashing with the terrorists and the attack started,” he told Reuters.

Bali said more than 4,000 IS militants had surrendered in the last month, among the tens of thousands of people who have streamed out of Baghouz – a collection of hamlets surrounded by farmland on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River.

But the SDF has also said the most hardened foreign jihadists are still holed up inside, ready to fight to the end.

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