NEAR BAGHOUZ, Syria (Reuters) – U.S.-backed fighters besieging ISIS final shred of territory in eastern Syria said they had pushed further into the enclave following clashes and air strikes by the U.S.-led coalition on Thursday.
The Syrian Democratic Forces said this week the battle for Baghouz, a collection of hamlets and farmland near the Iraqi border, was as good as over, but the remaining hardline jihadists are waging last stand attacks which include groups of suicide bombers.
“Our fighters advanced deep into areas controlled by the terrorist organization and established a number of new points, following clashes in which terrorists sustained a number of deaths and injuries,” a statement from the SDF press office said.
SDF media official Chiager Amed said ISIS fighters had used the cover from smoke and dust in the air to attack SDF forces on Wednesday.
“SDF thwarted their attacks and burned an arms deport,” he said.
Live footage broadcast by Kurdish Ronahi TV showed large fires raging in Baghouz overnight.
The SDF said 15 members of ISIS had been killed on Thursday morning after they tried to attack SDF troops.
ISIS held roughly a third of Syria and Iraq at the zenith of its power in 2014, when its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared himself “caliph”, or leader of all the world’s Muslims.