US, UK and French special forces are preparing to storm the last ISIS stronghold in the middle Euphrates River Valley once it is cleared of civilians and surrendering fighters, the Guardian reported on February 21. Units of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) will also participate in the operation.
The London-based newspaper said that the remaining ISIS fighters are hiding in an area that’s is riddled with tunnels and laced with the improvised explosive device (IEDs) and suicide vehicles. The terrorists are also using civilians, some of them are foreigners, as human shields.
A day earlier, the SDF began evacuating dozens of people from the ISIS-held pocket. According to the Guardian, many of these people were indeed fighters of the terrorist group who were trying to sneak out. However, security forces identified and arrested them at a screening checkpoint.
The Guardian said that the attack on ISIS’ last stronghold was supposed to last for two weeks only. However, the high number of the remaining civilians there has forced US-backed forces to pause the operation.
According to a recent report of the SOHR, the number of the remaining ISIS fighters is no more than 260. All of these fighters are reportedly foreigners who are planning to fight until death.