Backed Syrian Forces to Start ‘Final Battle’ Against Is Enclave

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The U.S. -backed Syrian Democratic Forces on Saturday launched a final push to clear the area from ISIS under the cover of airstrikes by the U.S. -backed coalition.

He said in the last ten days, SDF fighters had handled the battle "patiently" as more than 20,000 civilians were evacuated from the besieged enclave comprising two villages near the Iraqi border.

Mustafa Bali, an SDF spokesman, tweeted that SDF forces had destroyed fortifications in the Village of Baghuz, but that heavy fighting continued.

Since fighting intensified in December, more than 37,000 people, mostly wives and children of militant fighters, have fled out into SDF-held desert areas, the Observatory says.

There are an estimated 500 jihadists are holed up in the 3 square kilometre Baghouz area.

Another 600 people fled the fighting to reach SDF lines on Sunday, according to the Observatory.

Moscow hopes that Damascus and the Kurds will manage to find a solution regarding the eastern bank of the Euphrates that would guarantee Syria's sovereignty and territorial integrity, Russian Ambassador to Damascus Alexander Yefimov told Sputnik in an interview.

Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu announced the formation of a joint US-Turkish task force to coordinate the US pullout from Syria.

That in turn, would open the way for U.S. President Donald Trump to begin withdrawing U.S. troops from northern Syria as he has promised to do once the Islamic State group has been defeated.

He said that when the SDF detects movement from IS fighters, they bomb them, but added: "There have not been any major changes". "It seems there are still many civilians inside Baghouz", Bali said.

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Bali said there were "dozens of SDF hostages" captured by ISIL.

Analysts have warned the United States decision to pullout troops from Syria will leave a vacuum that will "increase the global and regional conflict" for power and influence in Syria.

Hundreds of civilians are also believed to be inside.

Under the working military plans, the USA would pull all troops out in the coming weeks - including about 200 Americans working out of a base in southern Syria [al-Tanf] that has served as an informal check on Iran's expansionist ambitions in the region, the current and former US officials said.

ISIS redrew the map of the Middle East in 2014 when it declared a "caliphate" across large areas of Syria and Iraq.

The clash reportedly took place in September in a hamlet IS held in eastern Syria, al-Keshma, near Baghouz.

The withdrawal of US forces could also spell trouble for their closest ally in the region, the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), who Turkey considers a terrorist group.

Meanwhile, thousands of civilians are trapped in eastern Syria.

But the expected USA pullout has seen them grappling to mend ties with the Damascus regime, which is also against Kurdish self-rule.

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