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Backed Syrian force announces 'final battle' against IS

10 February 2019

On Saturday, Kurdish-led forces announced that they had launched a "final push" to eliminate the last Daesh* terrorist pocket in Syria, according to AP.

Bali told Reuters in the last 10 days SDF fighters had handled the battle "patiently" as more than 20,000 civilians were evacuated from the besieged enclave.

Citing former and current U.S. officials, the newspaper reported on Thursday that unless the Trump administration changed course, the Pentagon plans to pull a significant portion of its 2,000 troops out by mid-March, with a full withdrawal coming by the end of April.

Four years ago, ISIS controlled territory the size of Britain and administered millions of people, but the United States coalition fighting the group said 99.5% of it has been clawed back in successive offensives.

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.

This is a developing story.

The Britain-based war monitor has said that figure includes some 3,200 suspected jihadis.

"We remain a long way from peace in Syria", said Merkel, adored by numerous more than 550,000 Syrians who have found refuge in Germany after she decided in 2015 to open the country's borders to nearly a million asylum seekers.

But it's not the full picture - IS still holds another sliver of territory in Syria further west - while its sleeper cells remain active.

The leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has survived an attempted coup last month by foreign fighters in eastern Syria, The Jerusalem Post reported.

Its deputy commander, Major General Christopher Ghika, described the size of the last ISIS pocket as "now less than 1% of the original caliphate".

Kurdish authorities say they have in their custody hundreds of foreign male IS members.

The SDF, backed by the US -led coalition, has driven Islamic State out of a swathe of territory in northern and eastern Syria.

The U.S. military presence in Syria has offered the Kurds a measure of protection against any Turkish offensive.

It said the US -led coalition struck positions of the IS in the eastern Euphrates to practice more pressure on the group.

Backed Syrian force announces 'final battle' against IS