Islamic State evacuations from last Syrian holdout exceed 600 as assault looms

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UN says 25,000 individuals have fled violence over final six months as die-hard militants have battled to defend their dwindling bastions (AFP/file photograph)

Greater than 600 individuals had been evacuated on Saturday from the Islamic State (IS) group’s remaining holdout in jap Syria, a monitor mentioned, as US-backed fighters ready for a last assault on the realm.

“Greater than 600 individuals, primarily ladies and kids, had been evacuated on 25 buses despatched” by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights mentioned. Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman mentioned a number of dozen militants had been amongst these evacuated to areas held by the Kurdish-Arab alliance. 

The SDF, backed by air strikes from a US-led coalition, in September launched an offensive to oust IS from the rump of the once-sprawling “caliphate” it proclaimed in 2014, AFP mentioned.

The IS militants who stay embody seasoned fighters who’re ready to die in a final stand. The Euphrates River space of the jap province of Deir Ezzor close to the border with Iraq is taken into account the remaining IS territory, based on the Arab Information.

In mid-December, the SDF took Hajin, the final city of observe within the IS-controlled space, signaling the approaching fall of the final bastion.

Nonetheless, the struggle to eradicate the remaining pockets of IS was shaken by US President Donald Trump’s shock December announcement that he’s withdrawing US troops from Syria. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday sought to reassure Washington’s Kurdish allies within the struggle towards IS, who worry the departure of American troops might enable Turkey to assault them.

Pompeo mentioned on Saturday in Abu Dhabi that he was optimistic “good consequence” could possibly be reached between Turkey and Syrian Kurdish teams, after talking to the Turkish international minister, Reuters reported.

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“We acknowledge the Turkish individuals’s proper to defend their nation from terrorists, however we additionally know that those that usually are not terrorists and preventing alongside us for all this time need to be protected,” Pompeo advised reporters. “There are numerous particulars to be labored out however I’m optimistic we will obtain a great consequence,” he mentioned.

Pompeo described the US exit as a “tactical change” in navy technique that would not deter efforts to defeat IS or harm US pursuits within the area, NPR reported.

Abdel Rahman mentioned 16,000 individuals, together with 760 IS fighters, have fled the realm because the begin of December. However “that is the primary time that buses have been supplied by the SDF and coalition”, he mentioned, suggesting a deal had been struck between the warring sides.

The United Nations mentioned on Friday that about 25,000 individuals have fled the violence over the past six months because the die-hard militants have battled to defend their dwindling bastions. 

An estimated 2,000 civilians stay trapped within the space across the city of Hajin, the UN mentioned.

The US-led coalition on Saturday fired greater than 20 missiles towards IS positions, the Observatory mentioned.

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