After weeks of stopping and starting, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have launched final operations on the town of Baghuz in eastern Syria, the last pocket of territory held by ISIS in the region.
After two weeks of halt, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have resumed their operations to liberate the final ISIS stronghold, Baghuz, from the militant group’s control.
Since November 2018, the SDF have launched operations to liberate areas held by ISIS in eastern Syria as part of the final phase to the Jazira Storm Operations.
In the past two months, the operations were successful in liberating over 99% of the areas previously held by ISIS. This has forced the group to retreat to the town of Baghuz, where militants are fighting in an attempt to retain their last stronghold. As a result, ISIS militants began using the civilians trapped in the city as human shields against the advancing forces.
This prompted the SDF to halt their advance on the city to allow civilians to escape before the final battle.
According to SDF officials, thousands of civilians were able to escape ISIS’ grip successfully and head towards the SDF security checkpoints. At the checkpoints, the escapees are screened, and those with ties to ISIS are separated from the civilians. After questioning, ISIS-affiliated escapees provided the SDF with information about the remaining ISIS members in Baghuz.
According to an SDF spokesperson, around 600 ISIS militants, mostly foreign fighters, remain in the town of Baghuz.
With the two-week deadline reaching its end, the SDF have begun bombarding Baghuz to liberate the city from ISIS control.
In an attempt to crush morale and cause divisions with the SDF, ISIS released a video that shows two Arab members of the SDF demanding that Arabs in the SDF halt their support for their Kurdish counterparts in the group. The two members are then executed.
While observers say that this provocation and attempt to create a schism between the fighters in the SDF will not succeed, it reveals ISIS’ failed efforts to fight back in the battle and propaganda.
SDF officials say this will not succeed, and that the defeat of the militant group is imminent within the next month or so.