The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), backed by the International Coalition, are continuing to tighten the noose on the Islamic State (ISIS), with the aim of taking control of the last 15 square kilometres in eastern Syria, which remain under the group’s control.
The group’s last pocket has seen the displacement of hundreds of civilians, fleeing the ongoing battles there. On Thursday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that over the past 24 hours, around 2,200 people had fled, including 180 ISIS members, to camps run by the SDF.
This displacement comes after the SDF took control of a number of areas over the last few weeks, while the International Coalition has intensified air bombardment against ISIS positions.
Last Friday, the United Nations said that about 25,000 people had fled the fighting over the last six months, as ISIS members try to defend their final strongholds.
Rockets and Coalition Raids
Local news networks reported that International Coalition forces deployed in the al-Omar oilfield struck what remained of ISIS controlled areas in the eastern Deir ez-Zor countryside with surface-to-surface missiles.
Since last Wednesday, the Coalition has escalated its raids on the town of al-Baghuz al-Fawqani, which is one of the main areas still controlled by ISIS in the Albu Kamal countryside in Deir ez-Zor province.
15 Square Km Under ISIS Control
On Tuesday, the SDF, with backing from the Coalition, was able to make an important advance, taking full control of the town of al-Sousa and its environs, which was one of the last major population centers under the group’s control.
With the loss of control over al-Sousa, the group is surrounded in the town of al-Baghuz al-Fawqani and in the villages and population centers connected to it, with a total areas of about 15 square km on the eastern banks of the Euphrates.
To obstruct the SDF, the Islamic State is relying on the large number of mines they have planted, in addition to car bombs and suicide bombers.
In the last statement by an American official on the fighting against the Islamic State, Vice President Mike Pence said on Wednesday that the group “has been defeated” in Syria, hours after American soldiers were killed in an attack in the country’s north, for which the group claimed responsibility.
Pence did not refer to the dead during the speech he gave before 184 heads of American diplomatic missions across the world who gather annually in Washington to discuss American foreign policy strategy.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.