SDF will attack ISIL Syria enclave once civilians out: official
CGTN

The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) is poised to attack the last Islamic State (ISIL) enclave in its area of operations once civilians still inside have been evacuated, an SDF official said.

The besieged ISIL enclave centered around Baghouz on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River represents the jihadist group's last territorial foothold in the part of Syria where the U.S.-backed forces have been fighting it.

Mustafa Bali, head of the SDF media office, did not indicate how soon he expected the civilian evacuation to be completed.

Most of the civilians are family members of ISIL fighters. 

"There is, of course, a safe corridor and civilians are coming out daily, and this reduces their number in Baghouz until we can be sure the town is free of civilians," Bali said late on Friday.

"We will launch an attack to end the Daesh (ISIL) presence or they will turn themselves in. There are no other options for them. We confirm there are no negotiations and no intention to have negotiations," Bali added.

Civilians fleeing fighting between Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and ISIL jihadists in the frontline Syrian village of Baghouz, wait to be screened and registered by the SDF in the countryside of the eastern Syrian, February 3, 2019. /VCG Photo

Civilians fleeing fighting between Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and ISIL jihadists in the frontline Syrian village of Baghouz, wait to be screened and registered by the SDF in the countryside of the eastern Syrian, February 3, 2019. /VCG Photo

The U.S. said on January 29 that ISIL was expected to lose the final chunk of territory within a couple of weeks.

The SDF, backed by the U.S.-led coalition, has defeated ISIL across a swathe of northern and eastern Syria. After driving the jihadists from their Syrian headquarters at Raqqa in October 2017, the SDF advanced southwards into Deir al-Zor province, attacking the jihadists in the territory on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River. 

ISIL still has a territorial foothold in Syria west of the Euphrates in areas otherwise held by the Syrian government and its allies.

(Cover: Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters stand with their weapons north of Raqqa city, Syria, March 8, 2017. /VCG Photo )

Source(s): Reuters