Thousands of civilians are trapped in Islamic State's last pocket in eastern Syria, a day after US-backed fighters started a campaign against the extremist group there, a war monitor said Sunday.
"There are fears over the lives of thousands of civilians who are
stranded in the pocket," said Rami Abdel-Rahman, head of the Syrian
Observatory for Human Rights.
On Saturday, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a Kurd-led rebel
group supported by a US-led international coalition, started an
offensive aimed at expelling Islamic State militants from their last
bastion in the eastern province Deir al-Zour, near the Iraqi border.
"The battle is continuing and fierce, with the aim of pressing
remnants of the [Islamic State] elements to surrender," Abdel-Rahman
told dpa. "There is no real progress on the ground because the area
is full of mines [planted by Islamic State] and has many civilians."
The SDF said Saturday that its forces had started the final battle to
capture the village of Baghuz, the last pocket still under Islamic
State control in eastern Syria, after the evacuation of more than
20,000 civilians from the area to safe, nearby camps.
Syria's Kurds have played a major role in fighting Islamic State in
war-torn Syria, gaining much of the territory once held by the
radical group in energy-rich eastern Syria.
A displaced Syrian woman and a child walk toward tents at the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp of al-Hol in al-Hasakeh governorate in northeastern Syria