Syria: SDF militia predicts ISIS' last fight to end imminently

Syria: SDF militia predicts ISIS' last fight to end imminently

Syria: SDF militia predicts ISIS' last fight to end imminently

A commander with the Syrian Democratic Forces said the extremists have staged a counter-attack from the tiny speck of land they still hold in eastern Syria.

Since December, nearly 59,000 people have left the last ISIS redoubt, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, around a tenth of them suspected jihadist fighters.

The bulk of the people evacuated from the diminishing Islamic State territory have been transported to a camp for internally displaced people in al-Hol, in northeastern Syria, where the United Nations says conditions are "extremely dire".

The official said jihadists were using suicide bombers but his force intercepted them before they reached their target.

There were advances on some points, Bali said.

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In parts of Baghouz already under SDF control, dirt roads were littered with the scorched remains of cars, trucks and motorcycles. ISIS was still putting up resistance with weapons including auto bombs.

Host Martha Raddatz asked Bolton about Trump's comment last month that 100% of the territory previously held by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria had been taken back by the U.S. military. The US-led coalition carried out 11 airstrikes destroying depots, fortifications, and vehicles.

Though the Caliphate is a finite area of power for the group and a tangible goal for military forces to focus on, initial victories don't guarantee overall defeat of the Islamic State, Defense Secretary James Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon in December 2018. US government experts strongly believe Baghdadi is alive and possibly hiding in Iraq.

While Baghouz is the last populated territory of what was once the group's self-proclaimed "caliphate", fighters still operate in remote areas elsewhere.

Bali said SDF forces had bombarded Baghouz heavily overnight before engaging in direct clashes with IS fighters in the pre-dawn hours. Live footage broadcast by the Kurdish Ronahi TV showed a series of large explosions lighting up the night sky over Baghouz, apparently from an ammunitions dump blowing up.

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Afrin said his forces are advancing slowly, taking some positions on the edge of a tent encampment where thousands of civilians and militants had been holed up in recent weeks.

By Sunday evening, no more people had come out to surrender, prompting the SDF to start its attack.

Backed by the US-led coalition, the SDF renewed their assault on Sunday after warning remaining IS fighters that time was up for surrenders.

They lashed out Monday with attempted suicide attacks - four Islamic State fighters assaulted Syrian Democratic Forces positions, setting off their explosive belts, though they only succeeded in damaging a minesweeper, the Syrian Democratic Forces spokesman, Mustafa Bali, said in a tweet.

"If we had thousands of kilometers and now we only have some kilometers left, it is said we have lost - but God's judging standard is different", said a man named Abu Abdel Adheem in the video.

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Dozens have been killed in clashes in recent days.

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