DEIR EZ-ZOR, Syria — The final ISIS holdout east of the Euphrates in Syria is under siege and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) say they will soon announce “good news.”
The SDF has besieged ISIS in a 600-700 square-meter area near al-Baghouz, the US-led international coalition anti-ISIS forces said on Saturday.
Chiya Firat, the leader of the SDF’s Jazira Storm operation, said at a press conference in Deir ez-Zor that ISIS was using human shields.
“The civilians shall not be killed. We have rescued ten of our captives while a number of them are still in the hands of Daesh,” said Chiya, referring to ISIS.
US President Donald Trump said on Friday a declaration of the defeat of ISIS in Syria could come within 24 hours.
US Vice President Mike Pence spoke about the “decimation of the caliphate” at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday.
“At this very hour, along the Euphrates River, the last mile of territory where the black flag of ISIS once flew is being captured,” he said.
Firat claimed ISIS is using human shields resulting in a slower liberation process.
State-run Voice of America reported that the coalition is reducing air strikes in an effort to protect civilians.
“Strikes have been reduced to help protect the civilians & due to battlefield conditions” per @OIRSpox “Civilians who have escaped are reporting #ISIS is using them as human shields & killing innocent civilians in order to intimidate others from trying to leave”
— Jeff Seldin (@jseldin) February 16, 2019
Top US generals are increasingly speaking out and saying a declaration of the defeat of ISIS would be premature.
The group has shown the ability to carry out bombings and other attacks in liberated areas of Iraq and Syria.
This is a developing story… Update: 1:46 p.m.