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Kurdish-Led Militias Start Offensive against Last IS Stronghold in Syria

2019/02/10 | 08:25

(Hatha al-Youm | Iraq News)- CAIRO – Kurdish-led militias announced on Saturday the beginning of an offensive in northeastern Syria against the last stronghold of the Islamic State terror organization.Earlier in the day, the Syrian Democratic Forces, a United States-backed Kurdish-Arab coalition dominated by fighters from the Kurdish YPG militia, said they had whittled down the last pocket of territory controlled by the extremist group to just two square kilometers.“The Syrian Democratic Forces launched the last battle to crack down on the terrorist organization (ISIS) in the village of al-Baguz,” the Kurdish militia said in a statement.The statement said the offensive began Saturday evening following the conclusion of a 10-day operation to evacuate more than 20,000 civilians from the area.Just hours before the announcement, SDF spokesperson Mustafa Bali told EFE that IS was clinging to two towns – al-Baguz and Fuqani – in the province of Deir ez-Zor, which is located on the Euphrates near the border with Iraq.At the height of the group’s power in late 2014 and early 2015, IS controlled vast swathes of territory that stretched from the outskirts of Baghdad to central Syria, including the major cities of Mosul and Raqqa.Bali said the SDF would continue to fight the IS until the area is totally liberated.On Wednesday, US President Donald Trump said that by next week he may be able to formally confirm that the terror organization has lost all the territory it once controlled.Bali said thousands of people were still in the areas controlled by the IS, adding that many of them were believed to be relatives of the extremists.These women and children are regarded as civilians by the SDF even if they are relatives of IS fighters, Bali said, adding that for this reason the SDF are exercising caution in their advance.He said the Kurdish-led militias would avoid using heavy arms or calling in airstrikes from the US-led international coalition because they are aiming to liberate civilians not kill them.Bali reported cases of the IS fighters using women and children as human shields.Since September, the SDF has been carrying out an offensive to seize control over the last stronghold of IS in Syria with the help of airstrikes by the international coalition.







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