Backed Kurds launch final attack against IS in Syria

Map showing last IS-held territory in Syria

The SDF arrested 63 suspected militants in the Syrian city of Raqa Thursday during an operation against jihadist sleeper cells, it said in a statement.

The final battle to clear the village of Baghouz is now playing out after 20,000 civilians were evacuated from the area in the eastern province of Deir-al-Zour over the past few weeks. CNN spoke to one person who said many people were trapped, but numbers were impossible to come by.

Bali said 400 to 600 jihadists were estimated to be holed up in the enclave, including foreigners and other hardened fighters.

"Some of them dress as women because we don't ask the women to raise their hijab", he said.

An SDF field commander said fighting was ongoing on Sunday morning.

He has also mentioned that Moscow has not seen progress in the United States implementing its decision to withdraw troops from Syria.

"It should be formally announced sometime, probably next week, that we will have 100 percent of the caliphate", Trump told representatives of the 79-member, USA -led coalition fighting IS.

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The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) "started to move on to the last village remaining under jihadists' control in [northern] Syria", said SDF press officer Mustafa Bali on Saturday evening.

Many of them are foreigners who can't blend in with the locals to escape, according to SDF and US officials. The US has aimed to avert a direct fight (in which the Kurds would face slaughter or certain retreat), but simultaneously to prevent its Kurdish allies on the ground from entering the embrace and protection of Assad.

Despite its caliphate being on the brink of collapse, IS still retains a presence in Syria's vast Badia desert and has carried out deadly attacks in SDF-held territory. "There was a clash and two people were killed".

Syria's Kurds have largely stayed out of the country's civil war, instead building semi-autonomous institutions in northern and northeastern regions they control.

While the U.S. and its coalition and regional partners have hammered ISIS east of the Euphrates River, the terrorist organization is believed to still have a foothold west of the river, in territory controlled by the Syrian regime and its allies. It could very well be headed toward a "look the other way situation" on this front, as the WSJ notes "the USA military withdrawal is proceeding faster than the political track".

But in December Washington announced it would pull out all its troops from Syria, sending Kurdish authorities scrambling to mend fences with the regime in Damascus.

The regime has made a military comeback with Russian military support since 2015, and now holds nearly two-thirds of Syria.

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