"Our force currently engages against ISIS terrorists in several points on the Euphrates river valley," SDF overall commander Jia Furat said, as quoted by Mustafa Bali the head of the SDF Press Office. The SDF did not indicate exactly where the clashes took place, but the extremists have employed counterattacks this week outside of the SDF's three primary assault axes surrounding al-Baghouz.Furat added that the "international coalition conducts several airstrikes against terrorist targets."The SDF is the partnered ground force of the US-led international coalition.The predominately-Kurdish Peoples' Protection Units (YPG) forms the backbone of the SDF.
Thursday evening, media close to the YPG reported that Baghouz had been "liberated" and the battle to defeat "terrorism ended." Bali cautioned against media making such proclamations.
He said only the SDF's official website, YPG official website, SDF spokesperson, YPJ spokesperson, or he should make such statements for them to be official. Celebrations broke out in northern Kurdish cities, timed with the demise of the extremist organization and the new year’s celebration, Newroz. Baghouz on the Euphrates River and near the Iraqi border has repeatedly been described by senior US military officials as the final ISIS bastion east of the Euphrates.
However, ISIS is already making a comeback in northern Iraq where number of attacks on Iraqi security forces have increased significantly in recent months. The ISIS propaganda magazine Al Naba claimed in its latest edition published on Thursday that in the first half of the Islamic calendar year which runs from September 11 until March 11, the group carried out 1991 operations.
The number of attacks in Iraq were 864 as opposed to 667 in Syria.