Backed Syrian fighters advance in clashes with Daesh

Islamic State chief escapes death as his fighters turn on him: report

SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali said "dozens" of his fighters were held hostage by ISIS in Baghouz, with the risk of their execution complicating the advance.

The source said both Turkey and the USA agreed that the process has gathered momentum.

The WSJ report, citing USA officials, says that Washington and Ankara have "made little headway" on the Kurdish issue after a series of diplomatic cold shoulders, including John Bolton being personally snubbed by Turkish president Erdogan last month while Bolton was visiting Turkey for talks.

Relative calm is prevailing eastern Syria as the negotiation for the withdrawal of the IS from the last four sq km it controls in the eastern Euphrates River is ongoing, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Voronkov also said the central leadership of ISIS maintains an "intent to generate internationally-directed attacks".

Bali told AFP that around 600 IS fighters are still inside the pocket, majority die-hard foreign fighers.

USA -backed forces in Syria announced the beginning Saturday of the possible final battle for the last village controlled by the Islamic State. CNN spoke to one person who said many people were trapped, but numbers were impossible to come by. "There were heavy clashes this morning, with landmines going off", said Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the Britain-based war monitor.

Bali, of the SDF, said that "in the last two months, most who handed themselves in or were arrested were foreign".

US-backed forces face fierce resistance from ISIS in 'final battle'
Germany warns: 'Don't underestimate Islamic State'

"You think of it, they do it", a commander for the People's Protection Unit (YPG), part of the SDF, told Daily Star Online.

Fellow combatants carried a coffin draped in the Kurdish colors of red, yellow and green, covered in pink flowers and adorned with a picture of the young woman.

"The fighting was very intense, they had tunnels between houses".

The jihadists however retain a presence in Syria's vast Badia desert, and have claimed a series of deadly attacks in SDF-held areas.

The Kurds have largely stayed out of Syria's almost eight-year civil war, instead focusing on building their own semi-autonomous institutions in the northeast of the country. Therefore, the US-led coalition should provide "intelligence in order to remove sleeper cells and dismantle the threat of the terrorist organization".

US prepares full Syria withdrawal by end of April unless something changes Trump's mind - report All US forces will be withdrawn from Syria by the end of April, unless the Trump administration decides otherwise, the Wall Street Journal reported citing anonymous "current and former" officials.

"When Washington withdrew from Iraq, the country was handed over to former Premier Nouri al-Maliki, who had marginalized a large segment of the Iraqi society, leading to chaos", he explained, adding that ISIS elements benefited from the situation and managed, within a short period of time, to gain control over 40 percent of Iraqi territory.

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