Fierce fighting as US-backed Syrian forces advance on IS

Trump Declares Victory on ISIS Just as New Fight Begins

But it is universally accepted that the group, which has been in territorial retreat since then and suffered its major defeats in 2017, will remain a security threat as an insurgent force with sleeper cells and some remote pockets of territory.

Accounts from women who have left the enclave in recent days suggest IS is allowing many families to go, sending them to a hill from which they can walk to an assembly point and hand themselves over.

"With the tunnels that they dug, we don't know how many of them there are", Sefqan admits.

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.

US -backed Syrian fighters battling the Islamic State militants in their last foothold in Syria say they have been forced to slow down their push because the extremists are using civilians as human shields. ISIS responded with drones and rockets, and seven SDF fighters have been wounded so far, said commander Adnan Afrin.

A convoy of trucks was seen heading into Baghouz in the morning, and the SDF military source said 150 jihadists had left along with about 350 civilians, confirming an earlier Syrian Observatory for Human Rights report on the surrenders.

"My comrade was sent to the hospital". A statement by the Syrian Foreign Ministry confirmed the attack, saying "terrorist groups" launched a pre-planned attack on armed forces stationed along the main road of Massasneh, killing and wounding a number of soldiers.

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Over the past few weeks, they have poured out in greater numbers than expected, holding up the final assault.

The SDF expects to declare victory in one week.

After removing the remaining civilians on Friday - mostly women and children - the SDF resumed their assault on the village. It has not ruled out the possibility that some militants have crept out, hidden among non-combatants.

It would allow Trump to begin withdrawing the estimated 2,000 U.S. troops from Syria, a decision he accounced in December - though last week he partially reversed course and agreed to keep a residual force of perhaps a few hundred troops as part of an global effort to stabilize northeastern Syria.

Addressing troops at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage, Trump said Thursday that "we just took over-you know, you kept hearing it was 90 percent, 92 percent-the caliphate in Syria".

The Syrian Democratic Forces and the Syrian military have alternatively feuded and worked alongside one another, but the former has attempted to speed efforts to reconcile their differences since Trump announced a withdrawal of US troops in December 2018.

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