Published: Mon, February 11, 2019
Worldwide | By Angelina Lucas

IS down to less than 1% of original 'caliphate': US-led coalition

IS down to less than 1% of original 'caliphate': US-led coalition

The weekend offensive by SDF forces comes after President Trump said on Wednesday he expected to announce as early as next week that the USA -led coalition had recovered all of the area previously held by ISIS.

Coalition deputy commander Christopher Ghika last week said Iraqi forces had sealed their border with Syria.

"You're always going to have some people", he explained to representatives from the global coalition to defeat ISIS.

Up to 600 fighters could still remain inside, majority foreigners, according to Bali.

Global Affairs Canada said in an e-mail statement to CBC News that it is "aware of Canadian citizens being detained in Syria", but its ability to provide consular assistance is "extremely limited" given the security situation on the ground.

At the height of their rule, the militants imposed their brutal interpretation of Islamic law on a territory spanning parts of Syria and Iraq that was roughly the size of Britain.

The coalition has been training and providing air support to the Syrian Democratic Forces, which launched an offensive on the last pocket of jihadist territory in September 2018.

That figure includes some 3,400 suspected jihadists detained by the SDF, according to the monitor, which relies on sources inside Syria for its information.

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Between 500 to 1,000 civilians are estimated to be inside the terror group's territory, Bali said.

Ankara emphasized that the Manbij road map reached between Turkey and the U.S.is an exemplary agreement for Washington and a model for it to cease its cooperation with the PKK terrorist group's Syrian affiliate People's Protection Units (YPG).

In the northeastern Kurdish-majority city of Qamishli on Saturday, SDF fighters stood to attention at the funeral of a YPJ fighter who died fighting IS.

The group, however, retains a presence in Syria's vast Badia desert, and has claimed a series of deadly attacks by sleeper cells in SDF-held areas.

Syria's war has killed more than 360,000 people and displaced millions since it erupted in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.

Kurdish-led forces spearheading the offensive have paused operations but US President Donald Trump predicted Wednesday that a final declaration of victory would come next week.

Thus, for all practical purposes, it appears the withdrawal of American troops from Syria will be limited to Manbij and Kobani in northern Syria and Qamishli and al-Hasakah in northeastern Syria in order to address the concerns of Washington's NATO-ally Turkey pertaining to the Kurdish militias which Ankara regards as "terrorists", and the fate of United States forces operating alongside Kurds in Deir al-Zor in eastern Syria and al-Tanf military base in particular is still in doubt. The Syrian government has said that the areas controlled by the Kurds would eventually revert to government control.

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