US-backed troops pushing to retake jihadist group’s last bastion in the Euphrates Valley after evacuating thousands of civilians and hostages trapped inside
Kurdish-led forces on Friday launched a final assault against diehard jihadist fighters clinging to the last sliver of their “caliphate” in eastern Syria.
The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said they resumed their advance after plucking a last batch of civilians from the tiny riverside hamlet of Baghouz where jihadists are holed up.
The offensive on a redoubt barely half a square kilometer in size will cap a nearly six-month operation against the Islamic State group’s last bastions in the Euphrates Valley.
The “operation to clear the last remaining pocket of ISIS has just started” at 6:00 pm, SDF spokesman Mustefa Bali announced on social media, using another acronym for the jihadists.
An unknown number of holdout IS fighters are hunkered down in a small area on the edge of Baghouz for a desperate final stand against the SDF.
Bali said the decision to resume the push came after the evacuation of the last civilians willing to leave the enclave and following the release of captured SDF fighters.
“The people we evacuated today told us that no civilians were inside and that those still inside did not want to leave,” he told AFP in the nearby base of Al-Omar.