US-backed fighters move into last ISIS enclave in eastern Syria: report

US-backed fighters move into last ISIS enclave in eastern Syria: report
© Getty Images

U.S.-backed fighters moved into the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria's (ISIS) last enclave in eastern Syria on Monday, Reuters reported.

“Several positions captured and an ammunition storage has been blown up,” Mustafa Bali, a spokesman for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) militia, tweeted late Sunday. "SDF is now holding positions inside the camp in #Baghouz."

The SDF says it has pushed ISIS from almost all of the northeastern corner of Syria, driving it into an enclave in the town of Baghouz.

ADVERTISEMENT

The SDF said Sunday that since early January of this year, more than 60,000 people have left the enclave, about half of them surrendering ISIS supporters including some 5,000 fighters.

Although the group has been weakened in the region, Western officials says ISIS will remain a threat in Syria, according to Reuters.

SDF's continued push through ISIS territory comes as President Trump has pledged to pull the U.S. out of the country.

Trump has claimed since December that ISIS has been fully defeated in the region, justifying his decision to withdraw.

“You kept hearing it was 90 percent, 92 percent, the caliphate in Syria. Now it’s 100 percent, we just took over,” Trump said during remarks to troops last month. "Now it’s 100 percent, we just took over 100 percent caliphate. That means the area of the land. We just have 100 percent.”

Lawmakers in Congress and U.S. officials have maintained that ISIS remains a threat.

Gen. Joseph Votel, the top military commander in charge of the fight against ISIS, told CNN last month that the group "still has leaders, still has fighters, it still has facilitators, it still has resources."

Trump's initial announcement of a full withdrawal from Syria drew significant backlash and prompted the resignation of then-Defense Secretary James Mattis.

The Trump administration then announced last month that they would be leaving 400 troops in Syria, to back the SDF.

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford on Sunday denied the accuracy of a report that the U.S. is planning to keep 1,000 troops in Syria.