ISIS to be defeated 'within hours'

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

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

USA -backed and Kurdish-led Syrian forces said Saturday they have launched a final push to defeat the Islamic State group in the last tiny pocket the extremists hold in eastern Syria.

"They have been trying to escape in women's clothes", the YPG fighter said. It is also unclear if civilians are still inside, caught under heavy bombardment.

The SDF on Saturday launched a final push to clear the area from ISIL under the cover of airstrikes by the US -backed coalition. The numbers have overwhelmed Kurdish-run camps in northeastern Syria, where humanitarian conditions are already dire amid a cold winter and meager resources.

The armed group overran large parts of Syria and neighbouring Iraq in 2014, but a series of military offensives have reduced that territory to just Baghouz.

The situation is a far cry from the president's announcement in December that ISIS was already defeated, saying he planned to pull US troops from Syria.

Mr Ghika said warplanes had bombed a media centre used by fanatics in Syria recently, with ISIS reduced to a tiny sliver of territory within the country.

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.

The withdrawal of US forces could also spell trouble for their closest ally in the region, the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), who Turkey considers a terrorist group.

The Turkish minister said he met during his stay in Washington with Chairman of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations James Risch and a number of other members to discuss the latest developments in northern Syria.

Trump's decision to withdraw U.S. troops has left Syria's Kurds scrambling for safeguards.

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IS has suffered substantial losses, but the United Nations says it still reportedly controls between 14,000 and 18,000 militants in Iraq and Syria, including up to 3,000 foreigners.

"This (American) pullout will leave a huge vacuum despite the allegations of defeating the last pockets of ISIS".

It is not clear how long the final push to free Baghouz from IS will take.

The fighting is expected to be over within days, Mr Bali said.

Since then, however, administration officials appear to have backed down from the initial urgency and the current envisaged timetable is unclear.

Surrounded ISIS militants push back against USA -backed Syrian forces using suicide vehicle bombs, snipers and booby traps; Benjamin Hall reports from London.

The president also said this month that coalition forces were on the verge of freeing all Syrian territory from Islamic State control.

Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said the SDF was "advancing slowly" on the edges of Baghouz, but cautioned landmines, snipers and tunnels dug by ISIL fighters were hindering progress.

The assault on Baghouz is being conducted by the SDF's Kurdish and Arab fighters, backed by US airstrikes and USA advisers.

"The SDF has launched its final battle to eliminate the terrorist ISIS organization in Al-Baghouz village; the last ISIS stronghold", the SDF said, using an alternate abbreviation for the terror group.

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