IS defeat in Syria nearing, US says

IS defeat in Syria nearing, US says
IS have been nearly defeated in Syria, a leading US diplomat has said.
2 min read
15 November, 2018
IS have been all but defeated on the battlefield [Getty]
The Islamic State group are close to defeat in Syria, a leading US diplomat has said, as a military offensive on the militants' final stronghold nears an end.

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces have renewed an offensive on the group's enclave in eastern Syria, backed by coalition aircraft.

James Jeffrey, the US special representative for Syria engagement, said that Washington will work with regional countries on a post-war settlement for the country.

He also said that IS will have to be kept in check following their defeat to ensure the militant group does not re-emerge.

"The fight is continuing and we hope that it will be over in a few months and that will be the last of [IS] terrain that it holds in a quasi-conventional way," Jeffrey said, according to Reuters.

IS are holed up in a small patch of territory along the Euphrates River in Deir az-Zour, with the SDF, backed by US forces, gaining ground.

The US are concerned that their defeat on the battlefield could not be the end of the group, with IS sleep cells still operating in remote areas, paving way for a resurgence.

These would be similar conditions to those that gave rise to IS in 2014, years after their forerunner's military might - al-Qaeda in Iraq - was greatly deminished following a US military "surge".

"The enduring defeat means not simply smashing the last of [IS]' conventional military units holding terrain, but ensuring that [IS] doesn't immediately come back in sleeper cells, come back as an insurgent movement," Jeffrey added.

He said the US will work with regional powers to move forward long-delayed peace talks.

"Our goal, which again was supported by Russia, France, Germany and Turkey and agreed in the 27 October Istanbul communique, is to establish this constitutional committee by the end of the year," he said. 

Syria's war broke out in 2011, when soldiers from the military defected following the shooting of protesters.

Since then, around 500,000 people have been killed in the war, mostly civilians killed from regime and Russian bombing.