US-backed SDF took control of positions in the last pocket of Islamic State

File AFP

UNITED STATES (VOP TODAY NEWS) — US-backed fighters said they had taken control of positions in the last enclave of the Islamic state in eastern Syria and a Reuters journalist said airstrikes were carried out in the small spot on the banks of the Euphrates River early on Monday.

Smoke rose from the small enclave, bombarded with planes and artillery. Another witness said the militants had launched a counter-offensive earlier.

“Control has taken place on several sites and an ammunition depot has been bombed,” said Mustafa Bali, a spokesman for the Syrian Democratic Forces on Twitter.

The enclave resembles the camp, with parked cars, makeshift shelters, blankets and cloth that can be seen flying through the wind as people walk through a lull in fighting.

Syria’s democratic forces, backed by an air force and special forces of the US-led coalition, succeeded in pushing the Islamic state to retreat from much of the northeast corner of the country. The organization routed al-Raqqa in 2017 and pushed it into the last enclave of Baguoz last year.

Although the organization’s defeat in the Baguoz would end its control of populated territory in Syria and Iraq in 2014, officials from the region and the West expect the organization to remain a threat.

Syria’s democratic forces have launched a sporadic attack on the enclave and have been held for long periods over the past few weeks to allow surrendered gunmen, their families and other civilians to leave.

Syria’s democracy forces said on Sunday more than 60,000, about half of them supporters of the Islamic state and some 5,000 militants, had fled the last enclave since the final assault began more than two months ago on Jan. 9.

Those who left the area reported severe living conditions in the enclave under coalition bombing and severe food shortages, some of them forced to eat weeds.

Syrian Democratic forces said last month they had found a mass grave in an area they had seized.

However, many of the Baguozs swore allegiance to the hardline organization, which last week posted a propaganda film from inside the enclave calling on its supporters to stand firm.

The Syrian Democratic Forces said suicide attacks on Friday targeted families of militants trying to leave the enclave and surrender, killing six people.

The Kurdish space of Ronahi broadcast footage late on Sunday showing a renewed attack on the enclave and saw flames on fire inside and shots and rocket whizzing in the small area.

The Syrian Democratic and Coalition Forces say that the remaining Islamic militants within the Baguz are among the most radical foreign extremists. Western countries believe that al-Qaeda leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has left the region.

This article is written and prepared by our foreign editors writing for VOP from different countries around the world – edited and published by VOP staff in our newsroom.

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