The SDF surrounded ISIS in the towns of Sousa and Baghuz Fawqani, the last two towns controlled by the terrorist group in its last pocket east of the Euphrates.
Clashes between the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and ISIS have been continuing in the eastern Euphrates region, in the east of Deir ez-Zour Province in Syria. This episode of the war is gradually approaching its conclusion following the progress made by the Kurdish-dominated forces over the past 2 months.
The last two main strongholds that were controlled by ISIS were Sousah and Baghuz Fawqani, which were surrounded by the SDF. Although ISIS militants have attempted to resist the SDF advance, their efforts appear to be futile as their influence in the region continues to decrease.
People who managed to escape ISIS-held areas in the eastern Euphrates pocket have mentioned that non-combatant civilians have been used as human shields by the terrorist group in the battles against the SDF. This tactic has been employed by ISIS in both Iraq and Syria. In addition, some civilians who have attempted to escape were executed, as well as certain ISIS militants who raised the possibility of surrendering to the SDF.
In recent advances, the SDF has concentrated their attacks against ISIS in Sha’fah, in addition to airstrikes conducted on ISIS-held positions in the town and near Sousah.
The eastern Euphrates pocket represents the final prominent stronghold of ISIS in Syria, although the terrorist group continues to maintain a presence in the Syrian Desert and cells in other parts of north-eastern Syria. The military battle against ISIS in the eastern Euphrates has been fought with the support of the US-led International Coalition and with occasional assistance from Iraqi forces just across the border.
The SDF have been instrumental in uprooting ISIS from Syria, especially since they liberated the former de facto Syrian capital of ISIS – Raqqa – back in October 2018. Once ISIS is completely vanquished from Syrian territory, political discussions about sovereignty and governance will begin in earnest between northern Syrian political forces and the government in Damascus.