US-backed forces launch operation on last IS-held pocket in Syria
HASSAKEH (Kurdistan 24) - The Kurdish-led, US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the US-led international coalition on Tuesday announced the start of their operation on the last remaining town held the Islamic State (IS) in eastern Syria on the Euphrates River.
“The operation is the last major SDF ground offensive in the MERV (Middle Euphrates Valley) to liberate the citizens from the brutal rule [of ISIS]” they have endured “over the past four years,” Army Col. Sean Ryan, spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, told Kurdistan 24.
“The Coalition will continue to support and promote regional stability to ensure the conditions which gave rise to ISIS never return,” he added.
This is the first time the SDF will try to take Hajin, the coalition spokesperson said. “I don’t believe trying to free Hajin from ISIS was ever attempted in this military manner,” he said.
The SDF announced the launch of the operation in a press conference in north Deir al-Zor.
“We are left with Hajin town and its countryside in Deir al-Zor to liberate from Daesh,” SDF spokesperson, Kino Gabriel, said in a statement.
“Our forces have launched the last phase of its victorious campaigns, and its recent battle east of the Euphrates is part of the Defeat Terrorism operation,” the SDF statement read.
The SDF further explained that their fighters, supported by the US-led coalition forces, will attack Hajin from four axes, aiming at liberating the remaining areas of Sousah and Sha’aafah on the Euphrates River.
Regarding the humanitarian situation, the SDF confirmed they had prepared a corridor in Bahara village, north to Hajin, for civilians who will flee as the battle begins.
“Our forces have equipped an emergency shelter camp to provide logistical and medical services to the displaced,” the SDF statement read.
Last month, the SDF drove out IS militants from Syria’s eastern border with Iraq, covering areas from both the Hassakeh and Deir al-Zor governorates, in a coordinated operation with the US-led coalition and Iraqi army.
Editing by Nadia Riva
(Additional reporting by Wladimir van Wilgenburg)