US-backed Syrian force push deeper into IS stronghold

US-backed Syrian force push deeper into IS stronghold
Syrian fighters released footage on Tuesday showing their advance into the Islamic State group's last stronghold in Syria.
2 min read
12 December, 2018

US-backed Syrian fighters on Tuesday continued their push deeper into the Islamic State group's last remaining stronghold in Syria.

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have been fighting for control over the eastern town of Hajin since last week and intense fighting has been ongoing.

"We are getting closer to the centre of Hajin today. We will be there soon. We won't let Daesh (IS) get away," a SDF fighter said in a video released on Tuesday.

The YPG, or People's Protection Units, which is the main force within the SDF, published a video on Tuesday said to show fighters in the northern outskirts of Hajin and further advancing towards the centre of the town.

According to a SDF spokesman, the fighters took full control of town's hospital early on Monday.

Omar Abu Layla, of the activist-run Deir az-Zour 24 monitoring group, confirmed the hospital on the edge of town was retaken by the SDF.

Rami Abdurrahman, who heads the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said the hospital had been destroyed earlier by airstrikes from the US-led coalition.

The hospital was close to the front lines and was not believed to be operating when it was hit.

The US-led coalition, in a statement, said IS forces had used the Hajin hospital as a platform to engage allied forces on the ground, causing the hospital to lose its protected status.

SDF fighters launched an offensive to capture Hajin and nearby villages on 10 September.

They have made little progress since then, but last week intensified their attacks under the cover of airstrikes by the US-led coalition.

IS overran large swathes of Syria and neighbouring Iraq in 2014, proclaiming a "caliphate" in land it controlled but has lost most of it to offensives by multiple forces in both countries.

In Syria, IS militants are largely confined to the pocket in Deir az-Zour, but they also have a presence in the vast Badia desert that stretches across the country to the Iraqi border.