US-backed Syrian forces are getting ready for ‘last battle’

Ka-52 Alligator ripping ISIS apart in Syria

The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are preparing a final assault against Islamic State’s last enclave in the part of Syria where a U.S.-led coalition has been supporting operations against the group, an SDF official told Reuters. The offensive is planned to go on Saturday.

The United States said on Jan. 29 that Islamic State (ISIS) was expected to lose the final part of occupied territory within a couple of weeks.

“The battle will be launched this evening and its mission will be to eliminate the last remnants of the terrorist organization,” Mustafa Bali, the head of the SDF media office, said, describing it as the “last battle”.

He said in the last 10 days SDF soldiers had handled the battle “patiently” as more than 20,000 civilians were evacuated from the besieged enclave comprising two villages near the Iraqi border. The SDF, backed by the U.S.-led coalition, has driven Islamic State out of a occupied territory in northern and eastern Syria.

After defeating the jihadists from their Syrian headquarters at Raqqa in October 2017, the SDF advanced southwards into Deir al-Zor province, attacking them in territory on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River. That territory is known as their ‘last stand’ because they are unable to retreat from there.

Islamic State (ISIS) still has a territorial foothold in Syria west of the Euphrates in a part of the country otherwise held by the Syrian government and its allies.