SDF will attack IS Syria enclave once civilians out

Frederick Owens
February 10, 2019

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.

After a pause of more than a week to allow civilians to flee, the SDF said Saturday it had resumed the fight to seize the last four-square-kilometre (one-square-mile) patch from the militants. "This was the foreign fighter element, some of his most trusted people".

He later wrote on Twitter that the battle had started.

"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.

"This battle will be sealed in the coming days".

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said since the SDF began its offensive against ISIS in the area on September 10, about 1279 ISIS gunmen and 678 SDF fighters have been killed.

The deputy commander of the US-led coalition fighting the group, Major General Christopher Ghika, described the size of the last IS pocket as "now less than one percent of the original caliphate".

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

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

Despite its caliphate being on the brink of collapse, IS still retains a presence in Syria's vast Badia desert and has carried out deadly attacks in SDF-held territory.

The Kurds, who have de facto semi-autonomy in northeastern Syria, are also engaged in behind-the-scenes diplomatic talks over the fate of the region.

Washington has been trying to reach agreement with Turkey, which considers the US-backed Syrian Kurdish YPG militia a terrorist organization, for the safety of the YPG fighters after it pulls out. (AP) The US military is reportedly planning to withdraw all US forces from Syria towards the end of April.

"We are seeking a political solution in Syria, which requires an agreement with the government in Damascus", senior Kurdish official Badran Jia Kurdi told AFP.

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