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US-backed forces face fierce resistance from ISIS in ‘last battle’

Citizens of the dying caliphate recount life under ISIS

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US-backed forces face fierce resistance from ISIS in ‘last battle’


At its peak, ISIS held giant swaths of Iraq and Syria — an expanse concerning the dimension of Portugal.

Its territory has now shrunk to a tiny pocket in Syria’s japanese Deir Ezzor province, with militants holed up within the village of Baghouz Al-Fawqani, close to the Iraqi border.

After pausing greater than per week to permit 1000’s of civilians to flee the city, the SDF on Saturday renewed its push to wrest the final four sq. kilometers (1.5 sq. miles) from the militants.

At dawn on Sunday, US-led coalition airstrikes pummeled the western a part of Baghouz Al-Fawqani, sending darkish columns of smoke into the sky.

SDF commanders have instructed CNN that its fighters are being met by fierce resistance from ISIS militants, who’re retaliating with heat-seeking missiles. Two SDF fighters have been killed and others injured after one SDF automobile was hit.

The militants have burrowed beneath the city, constructing a community of tunnels that enable them to shift from home to deal with undetected. The technique, which the group deployed in Mosul and elsewhere, is presenting an actual problem, SDF commanders stated.

At the very least 500 ISIS fighters are believed to stay within the village, considered a focus of ISIS’ most skilled and battle-hardened fighters and commanders.

In the desert outside Baghouz Al-Fawqani, civilians are screened by the SDF.

US President Donald Trump steered final Wednesday that ISIS’s defeat was imminent, including {that a} formal announcement declaring “100% of the caliphate” retaken can be made someday within the coming week.

The President’s remarks to the ministerial assembly of the International Coalition to Defeat ISIS largely glossed over his determination to withdraw US troops from Syria, the situations and logistics of that are nonetheless underneath negotiation.

American, French and British forces are additionally working within the space round Baghouz Al-Fawqani, supporting the SDF. The groups, which aren’t engaged in road preventing, are firing artillery and mortars at ISIS positions.

Earlier than the assault started at sundown on Saturday, civilians may very well be seen fleeing the city. CNN spoke to at least one one that stated many individuals have been trapped, however numbers have been unimaginable to return by. SDF officers say some 1,500 civilians may nonetheless be inside.

On the group’s top, 7.7 million folks have been estimated to dwell underneath ISIS’ rule, in response to Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR), the official title for the coalition preventing ISIS. Lots of these folks paid the group taxes, charges and fines, which made up a big portion of ISIS’ revenue.

Within the years since, the group’s annual income has greater than halved: from as much as $1.9b in 2014 to a most of $870m in 2016, in response to a current report by the Worldwide Centre for the Research of Radicalisation and Political Violence (ICSR) at King’s Faculty London.

Regardless of the lack of territory, and funds, a UN-monitoring committee estimated in July 2018 that ISIS membership in Iraq and Syria was nonetheless between 20,000 and 30,000.

Altogether, no less than 41,490 worldwide residents have traveled to Syria and Iraq to hitch ISIS, per ICSR. And international fighters proceed to reach, undeterred — CJTF-OIR estimates round 50 arrivals per thirty days.



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