Backed Syrian force to start 'final battle' against IS enclave

Isis in Syria: It may be over for the caliphate but ideology has already spread

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fired on ISIS terrorists on February 8 ahead of a planned assault on the terrorists' last enclave on February 9 in the part of Syria where a USA -backed coalition has been supporting operations against the group.

SDF troops, led by Kurdish fighters, have been holding out for the past 10 days.

Mustafa Bali, head of the SDF media office, did not indicate how soon he expected the civilian evacuation to be completed, Reuters reported, noting that most of the civilians are family members of ISIS militants.

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria's (ISIS) "caliphate" has shrunk to less than 1 per cent of its original size, the US-led coalition has said, as a final onslaught in eastern Syria loomed.

"After ten days of evacuating more than 20,000 civilians. the battle was launched tonight to exterminate the last remnants of the organisation".

Trump said in December he was pulling all 2,000 US troops out of Syria, saying the battle against ISIL there was nearly won.

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SDF spokesman Mustefa Bali told AFP on Wednesday that his group is detaining foreign IS fighters on a "daily basis".

But the chancellor said Germany and allies will face an uphill battle to ensure its defeat as the group has not disappeared and in her words "we remain a long way from peace in Syria".

Bali said there could be up to 600 IS fighters still inside the pocket, majority foreigners.

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

US, French, British and other forces are also actively looking for wanted ISIS operatives among those fleeing the combat zone with civilians.

Thousands of suspected IS fighters have attempted to blend in with civilians fleeing the jihadist group's battered last bastion, including a large number of foreigners.

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"Remnants - that's all they have, remnants - but remnants can be very risky", Trump said.

"The territorial caliphate, which has not yet been wiped out, is being defeated", minister Florence Parly said in Baghdad. Some of these are the most battle-hardened, ruthless and experienced fighters remaining in ISIS.

The SDF, which includes the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), backed by Americans, has been a bone of contention in Washington's ties with Ankara.

In the northeastern Kurdish-majority city of Qamishli on Saturday, SDF fighters stood to attention at the funeral of a YPJ fighter who died fighting IS.

This suits his agenda of withdrawing all United States troops from Syria.

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