SDF ready for push on final Daesh pocket

Kurds in Iraq say US withdrawal from Syria a mistake

Eastern Syria -U.S-backed Syrian forces say they launched a final push to defeat isis in the only remaining pocket of territory that the extremists still hold in the country.

SDF troops, led by Kurdish fighters, have been holding on the outskirts of ISIS territory for the last 10 days as more than 20,000 civilians were evacuated from the besieged enclave, the SDF said.

The SDF, backed by the USA -led coalition, has defeated Islamic State across a swathe of northern and eastern Syria.

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

The president told representatives of a 79-member, US-led coalition fighting ISIS that the militants held a tiny percentage of the vast territory they claimed as their "caliphate".

SDF spokesman Mustefa Bali told AFP on Wednesday that his group is detaining foreign IS fighters on a "daily basis".

The announcement comes days after the SDF said that it was opposed to the creation of a Turkey-controlled security zone in north-eastern Syria and proposed global monitoring of the area.

The Observatory said 12 ISIS gunmen attacked the SDF and clashed with them for several hours until most of the attackers were killed early on Saturday.




IS overran large parts of Syria and neighbouring Iraq in 2014, declaring a "caliphate" in areas it controlled.

FILE PHOTO: Fighters from Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are seen after arresting a wounded man during their fighting with Islamic State in the northern area of Deir al-Zor, Syria September 24, 2017.

"Remnants - that's all they have, remnants - but remnants can be very unsafe", Trump said.

On Thursday, the coalition said the "caliphate" had massively shrunk.

More than 37,000 people, mostly wives and children of militants, have fled IS territory since the SDF intensified its offensive in December, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The Britain-based war monitor has said that figure includes some 3,200 suspected jihadis. Some of these are the most battle-hardened, ruthless and experienced fighters remaining in ISIS. But it is not the end for hundreds of Isis fighters surrounded in eastern Syria, or the thousands who have already escaped.

This suits his agenda of withdrawing all United States troops from Syria.

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