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SDF will attack ISIL Syria enclave once civilians out

10 February 2019, 05:57 | Devin Moran

SDF will attack ISIL Syria enclave once civilians out

SDF will attack ISIL Syria enclave once civilians out

President Trump's decision to pull US troops out of Syria has triggered a scramble among global powers and local forces to figure out how to fill the potentially destabilizing vacuum the Americans will leave behind.

"The SDF have launched the final battle to crush ISIS in the village of Baghouz", the SDF said in a statement.

"There hasn't been any big advance or change on our side over the past five days", an SDF spokesman told AFP on Friday.

The SDF, backed by the US-led coalition, has defeated ISIS across a swathe of northern and eastern Syria in recent months, reducing its once expansive caliphate to a fraction of its peak size.

Among the policy decisions still to be made was what to do about the tens of thousands of Syrian Kurdish fighters that U.S. forces had trained, armed and advised to carry out the ground war against the Islamic State.

"The battle will be launched this evening and its mission will be to eliminate the last remnants of the terrorist organisation", Mustafa Bali, the head of the SDF media office, said. US, French, British and other forces are also actively looking for wanted ISIS operatives among those fleeing the combat zone with civilians.




Islamic State redrew the map of the Middle East in 2014 when it declared a caliphate across large areas of Syria and Iraq.

But a series of separate military operations, including by the SDF, have left its proto-state in tatters.

Donald Trump stated that "The United States military, our coalition partners and the Syrian Democratic Forces have liberated virtually all of the territory previously held by ISIS in Syria and Iraq".

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitor, said SDF fighters are advancing "cautiously" due to mines planted by IS gunmen.

Speaking at the State Department on Wednesday, February 6, Trump said that US-led troops and their Kurdish allies should formally announce the end of the "caliphate" some time next week.

Trump wants to withdraw USA troops from Syria by the end of April, a plan that has alarmed European allies, who fear ISIL would resurface in Syria in the absence of a credible peace plan to end the country's civil war.



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