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ISIS reduced to only ‘500 fighters hiding in just five square miles’ – World News

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ISIS has been reduced to as few as 500 militants hiding in an area of northern Syria measuring just five square miles, according to reports.

The terror group overran huge swathes of Iraq and Syria when it declared its caliphate in 2014.

It was an area similar to the size of the UK at its peak in 2016 and nearly eight million people lived under its tyranny.

But now air strikes and military operations on the ground have pushed ISIS back to a final stronghold.

It is estimated around 500 die-hard fighters could remain in an area spanning only five square miles, although there is no exact official confirmation of these numbers.

The terrorists who remain are confined to the Syria’s eastern province of Deir al-Zour, near the Iraqi border.

Mustafa Bali, spokesman for the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, announced soldiers were in the “final battle” against ISIS.

Donald Trump, who is planning to pull US forces out of Syria, said on Wednesday he expected an announcement as early as next week that the SDF had reclaimed all the territory previously held by the jihadist group.

There were once nearly eight million people living under the terror of ISIS

A map showing the loss of ISIS territory between 2014 and today

 

The enclave is close to the Iraqi border and comprises two villages, though Islamic State also still has territory in the part of Syria that is mostly under the control of the Russian and Iranian-backed Syrian government.

Senior SDF official Redur Xelil told Reuters the force hoped to capture the area by the end of February, but cautioned that
ISIS would continue to pose “great and serious” security threats even after that.

Islamic State redrew the map of the Middle East in 2014 when it declared a caliphate across large areas of Syria and Iraq.

But the group steadily lost ground and its two main prizes – the Syrian city of Raqqa and Iraq’s Mosul – fell in 2017.

The whereabouts of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is currently unknown.

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