US-backed fighters seize positions inside ISIS's last Syrian stronghold

Mail Online | 3/18/2019 | Afp;Reuters
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American-backed fighters in Syria have seized buildings inside ISIS's last stronghold after a night of intense shelling and airstrikes.

Troops for the Syrian Democratic Forces captured a cluster of buildings inside Baghouz early on Monday and were facing off against an ISIS counter-attack.

Positions - Ammunition - Storage - SDF - Spokesman

'Several positions captured and an ammunition storage has been blown up,' SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali said on Twitter.

A shroud of black smoke covered the Islamic State group's last Syria redoubt on Monday as US-backed forces battled holdout jihadists.

Hilltop - Bastion - AFP - Correspondent - Sound

On a hilltop overlooking the bombed-out bastion, an AFP correspondent heard the sound of gunfire and heavy shelling ring out.

Men, believed to be jihadists, could be seen shuffling inside the redoubt, beneath a plume of smoke that obscured most of the encampment.

Rocks - SDF - Fighters - Fire - IS

Crouching behind rocks, SDF fighters opened fire at IS fighters that appeared near the banks of the Euphrates River.

'The SDF ground offensive has been very effective,' coalition spokesman Sean Ryan told AFP on Monday.

SDF - Deliberate - Approach - Territory - Daesh

'The SDF continues to pursue a deliberate, methodical approach to removing the last remaining territory under Daesh,' he said, using an Arabic acronym for IS.

An SDF official who asked not to be named told AFP on Monday that his force has seized a cluster of buildings from jihadists in the latest bout of fighting.

SDF - Spokesman - Mustefa - Bali - Sunday

SDF spokesman Mustefa Bali on Sunday night said his force captured 'several positions' inside the pocket.

'SDF is now holding positions inside the camp,' he said on Twitter.

People - IS - Pocket - SDF - Spokesman

It remains unclear exactly how many people remain inside the last IS pocket but SDF spokesman Kino Gabriel on Sunday said that those quitting the area put the number at up to 5,000 people.

The Kurd-led force has also shied away from giving a timeline for the operation but Gabriel said that he hopes it would not take more than a week before jihadists are flushed out.

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