Fierce fighting as US-backed Syrian forces advance on Daesh

Fierce fighting as US-backed Syrian forces advance on Daesh

Fierce fighting as US-backed Syrian forces advance on Daesh

"ISIS fighters have been using suicide vests and auto bombs to slow down the SDF offensive and hide from Coalition strikes in the area of Baghouz", colonel Sean Ryan said.

A mass grave containing the bodies of dozens of people thought to have been Yazidis enslaved by the Islamic State (IS) group has been found in territory recently seized by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.

Women and children exit the back of a truck as they arrive at a US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) screening area after being evacuated out of the last territory held by Islamic State, in the desert outside Baghouz, Syria, Friday, March 1, 2019. Afrin said eight SDF fighters were wounded, some critically.

"We expect a decisive battle in the morning", he told Reuters on a hill overlooking Baghouz.

At its height in 2014, Islamic State controlled around a third of Syria and Iraq.

A spokesman for the coalition, which supports the Kurdish-led SDF, said it was too early to assess the battle's progress "as it is a complicated situation with many variables".

SDF fighters tightened the noose on the militants Saturday, advancing from two fronts, and cutting off their access to the river that abuts their last territory from two sides.

In coming days, the Kurdish-led militia plan to storm an area held by jihadists on the edge of the village of Baghouz, the final pocket of the organization's once impressive scale of territory.

"They still hold civilians and are lacing the tunnels with IEDs (improvised explosive devices) as well".

The US-backed fighters say Isis militants are mostly hiding underground, in tunnels.

A senior SDF commander described the militants as "rats" but acknowledged that they're still fighting to the bitter end. Over the last few weeks, they have poured out of the tiny cluster of hamlets and farmlands in Deir al-Zor province, holding up the final assault.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) clashed with ISIL for almost 18 hours inside Baghouz after removing the remaining civilians and resuming their assault on Friday evening.

The US now has about 2,000 troops based in Syria to support the SDF against the terror group.

A spokesman for the SDF said they would continue their assault on Baghouz in eastern Syria where the once proud "caliphate" has been brought to its knees. An SDF commander told Reuters on Thursday that numerous people leaving the enclave had been sheltering underground in caves and tunnels. Trump announced in December that he would withdraw us troops with the imminent fall of the extremist group.

Sefqan, another SDF commander who leads a special forces unit that advanced into Baghouz Saturday night, said the targeted weapon depot appeared to be a major one for the militants.

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