ISIS suffers heavy losses in Deir Ezzor enclave
At least 45 "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) fighters have been killed around their last enclave in Syria despite the pause in a Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) offensive, AFP reported Wednesday (November 7th).
The SDF announced the pause in Deir Ezzor offensive last week, but waves of coalition airstrikes have killed 28 extremists since Monday, including during an abortive ISIS assault Tuesday on an oilfield north of the enclave, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The SDF killed another 17 ISIS fighters while defending their base in the village of al-Bahra just outside ISIS-held territory on Monday, the Observatory said.
SDF spokesman Kino Gabriel had stressed that the pause in offensive operations did not mean SDF fighters would not defend themselves.
The SDF launched its offensive against ISIS around the Euphrates valley town of Hajin on September 10th. But after making slow progress, the Arab-Kurd alliance suffered a setback last month when ISIS took advantage of sand storms to launch a series of counter-attacks.
The Hajin enclave is the last significant remnant of the "caliphate" ISIS proclaimed in 2014 across a vast swathe of Syria and neighbouring Iraq.
The rest has all been lost to offensives by multiple alliances on both sides of the border.
Outside the Hajin enclave, the group's operations are confined to sleeper cells and to hideouts in unpopulated desert and mountain areas.