File photo. Photograph:( Reuters )
US-backed Syrian forces on Tuesday relaunched their operations to seize the last territory Islamic State controls in the east near the border with Iraq.
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias, had halted their battle after Turkey launched an assault in January against northern Afrin region.
“We have rearranged our ranks,” said Lilwa al-Abdallah, spokeswoman for the offensive in oil-rich Deir al-Zor province.
Islamic State militants stepped up attacks in the region in recent weeks in a bid to reorganize, she told a news conference at an oilfield on the eastern bank of the Euphrates river.
“Our heroic forces will liberate these areas and secure the border...We welcome the support of the Iraqi forces.”
Also, the US-led coalition on Monday announced the end of a huge operation against Islamic State in Iraq by stating the "deactivation" of its land forces command headquarters.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory over the Islamic State in December, five months after his forces recaptured the country’s second city Mosul in a protracted battle with the jihadist militants.
Meanwhile, the Islamic State terrorists agreed to hand over their last pocket in Damascus on Friday, reports said. The surrender was made after a week of escalations by pro-government forces against Islamic State-held Hajar al-Aswad neighborhood and Yarmouk Palestinian camp in Damascus.
Pro-government forces bombed the two areas and blanketed them with artillery fire in a crescendo of violence captured by the state-affiliated Central Military Media outlet on Friday.
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said last week that he expected a “re-energized” effort soon against the ultra-hardline militants in eastern Syria.
Syrian fighters, backed by US airstrikes and troops, have dealt heavy blows to Islamic State but the jihadists still hold a swathe of land along the desert frontier with Iraq. They are widely expected to revert to guerrilla tactics if they lose the last remnants of their once self-styled “caliphate”.