Backed Syrian forces launch attack on final Isis stronghold

Islamic State chief escapes death as his fighters turn on him: report

The U.S. -backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have been on a crushing offensive to root out the IS from the eastern Euphrates region since last September.

More than 20,000 civilians were evacuated in the ten days leading up to Saturday, he said.

Daesh leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi is believed to have fled an attempted coup by fighters within his own group last month, senior regional intelligence officials have told the Guardian.

Its territory has now shrunk to a tiny pocket in Syria's eastern Deir Ezzor province, with militants holed up in the village of Baghouz Al-Fawqani, near the Iraqi border.

While ISIS will soon no longer have fixed positions anywhere in Iraq or Syria, its surviving fighters have reverted to guerilla warfare and remain a potent force.

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.

Four years ago, IS controlled territory the size of Britain and administered millions of people.

Up to 600 militants could still remain inside, a lot of them foreigners, according to SDF spokesperson Mustafa Bali.

Many of them are foreigners who can't blend in with the locals to escape, according to SDF and US officials.

The Britain-based war monitor has said that figure includes some 3,200 suspected jihadists.

In that time, more than 1,200 IS militants, more than 670 SDF fighters, and around 400 civilians have been killed in the fighting, the Observatory says.

On Sunday, a Russian diplomatic source says Russia was repatriating 27 children who mothers are being held in Iraq for belonging to IS.

"We, as the SDF, think that dealing with and finishing off the Islamic State militarily was the easy step, but now comes the more challenging phase". According to the terms of the agreement, the Erdogan administration released the USA pastor Andrew Brunson on October 12, which had been a longstanding demand of the Trump administration, and has also decided not to make public the audio recordings of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, which could have implicated another American-ally the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman in the assassination.

"We will launch an attack to end ISIS presence or they will turn themselves in".

The country's Kurds have largely stayed out of the conflict, instead developing semi-autonomous institutions in parts of the country's northeast under their control.

With hundreds of civilians fleeing this week before the SDF assault, it is unclear how many people remained in the town Saturday.

The regime has made a military comeback with Russian military support since 2015, and now holds nearly two-thirds of Syria.

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