SDF assault on ISIS Syria enclave presses ahead

A shroud of black smoke on Monday (March 18th) covered the last Syria enclave of the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) battled the group after a night of shelling and airstrikes, AFP reported.

The SDF have been closing in on ISIS fighters holed up in a small sliver of territory in the village of al-Baghouz since January. A cluster of rudimentary tents and vehicles is all that remains.

Backed by international coalition airstrikes, the SDF pummelled the ISIS pocket on Sunday night, pushing deeper into the group’s last encampment.

Ground battles and artillery attacks continued Monday morning as the SDF worked to consolidate its most recent gains, spokesman Jiaker Amed said.

"Our forces have advanced but clashes have been ongoing since last night," he said.

"The SDF ground offensive has been very effective," coalition spokesman Sean Ryan said Monday. "The SDF continues to pursue a deliberate, methodical approach to removing the last remaining territory under ISIS."

An SDF official who asked not to be named said Monday that his force has seized a cluster of buildings from ISIS in the latest bout of fighting.

SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali on Sunday night said his force captured "several positions" inside the pocket, adding that the "SDF is now holding positions inside the camp".

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