'100%' of ISIS territory will be reclaimed as early as next week

'100%' of ISIS territory will be reclaimed as early as next week

More than 20,000 civilians were evacuated in the ten days leading up to Saturday, he said.

After capturing Raqqa, the SDF advanced southwards into Deir al-Zor province, attacking the jihadists in territory on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River.

Addressing representatives of the 79-member coalition fighting Isis, he said: "It should be formally announced some time, probably next week, that we will have 100 percent of the caliphate".

"This battle will be sealed in the coming days", he said.

However, he said these tactics would not succeed, since the SDF is focused on finding Islamic State fighters in hiding, while Iraqi forces have secured the border to ensure the extremists can not enter Iraq.

Earlier this week, CBS News visited the frontline and found no sign of a slowdown, as Kurdish-led troops closed in on the last strip of ISIS territory, backed up by US and coalition airstrikes.

SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali told AFP that "the battle has started", following the week-long pause in fighting.

However, Ankara says progress in the Manbij deal has been "sluggish" and slower than initially planned, due to what has been described as the disingenuous attitude of the U.S. Yet, officials of the two countries have geared up talks since President Trump's announcement of withdrawal in December 2018.

In December, Trump declared victory over the Islamic State terror group in war-torn Syria and announced that American forces would be "coming home soon", sparking concern among officials in Washington and allies overseas.

Trump, Xi Unlikely To Meet Before March 1 Trade Deadline: U.S
Officials have reported little progress on contentious issues but remain hopeful that a deal will be struck. Hong Kong's Hang Seng, reopening after a Lunar New Year break, gave up 0.2 percent to 27,946.32.

"They are attempting to escape through intermixing with the innocent women and children attempting to flee the fighting", coalition deputy commander Christopher Ghika said on Thursday.

At its peak in 2014, IS established a "caliphate" stretching across Syria and Iraq that was similar in size to the United Kingdom and ruled over more than 7.7 million people.

The Britain-based war monitor has said that figure includes some 3,200 suspected jihadis.

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

Alleged Islamic State (IS) group fighters who fled the Syrian village of Baghuz, near the Iraqi border, sit blindfolded in the back of a pickup truck after being taken into custody by SDF forces on January 30, 2019.

Obviously, both these divergent goals are impossible to achieve, unless Washington is planning to maintain some sort of long-term military presence in Syria.

The conflict has killed more than 360,000 people and displaced millions since starting in 2011 with a brutal crackdown on anti-government protests.

Remaining in an area of fields and farmhouses less than a few square kilometres are up to 600 ISIS fighters and their families, many of them foreigners.

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