Contradicting Trump, Merkel says Islamic State not defeated

Contradicting Trump, Merkel says Islamic State not defeated

The U.S. -backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) began an assault against the final Islamic State enclave in eastern Syria on Saturday, aiming to wipe out the last vestige of the jihadist group's "caliphate" in the SDF's area of operations.

Bali told Reuters in the last 10 days SDF fighters had handled the battle "patiently" as more than 20,000 civilians were evacuated from the besieged enclave.

Mustafa Bali, head of the SDF media office, did not indicate how soon he expected the civilian evacuation to be completed.

Major General Christopher Ghika, the coalition's deputy commander, described the size of the last IS pocket as "now less than one percent of the original caliphate".

A final push against IS' last pocket of territory in eastern Syria is being made by SDF forces.

"There hasn't been any big advance or change on our side over the past 5 days", an SDF spokesman told Agence France-Presse (AFP) on Friday.

Trump made the statement during his speech to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS on Wednesday at the U.S. State Department, . praising the territorial gains made against the terror group.

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The Kurdish-Arab militia - backed by USA air strikes - have now resumed the fight to take the last four-square-kilometre (one-square-mile) patch of territory in eastern Syria's Deir az-Zour from IS.

In that time, more than 1,200 IS militants, more than 670 SDF fighters, and around 400 civilians have been killed in the fighting, the Observatory says.

The leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has survived an attempted coup last month by foreign fighters in eastern Syria, The Jerusalem Post reported.

The remaining Islamic State territory in Syria is west of the Euphrates.

The Britain-based war monitor has said that figure includes some 3,200 suspected militants. "This was the foreign fighter element, some of his most trusted people". (AP) The US military is reportedly planning to withdraw all US forces from Syria towards the end of April.

Most of the dozen or so attackers were killed and two managed to escape after a battle lasting several hours, during which US airstrikes were called in, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group.

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