U.S.-backed Kurdish Forces Begin Final Push To Oust Islamic State From Syria

United States-backed Kurdish fighters have launched an offensive to completely eradicate Islamic State in Syria, amid reports the Trump administration intends to fully withdraw American troops from the war-torn country by April. A spokesman for the Syrian Democratic Forces announced the beginning of the campaign on Saturday, after more than 20,000 civilians were evacuated from the last ISIS-held bastion in the eastern province of Deir ez-Zour. While the terror group controls only a few small pockets of land—a far cry from the self-styled “caliphate” that once spanned hundreds of thousands of square miles across Syria and Iraq—President Donald Trump has come under fire for declaring ISIS defeated. Members of the president’s own political party as well as much of the American defense establishment have called on the White House to reverse its decision to pull-out U.S. forces over fears that doing so could allow Islamic State to regroup. There also is growing concern such a move would permit Russia to consolidate its gains in Syria, thereby cementing Moscow’s resurgence in the Middle East, and give Iran free rein to continue its military build-up in the region. President Trump last week suggested that ISIS would soon be vanquished from the final “remnants” of the territory it once held, although he conceded that these remaining strongholds “can be very dangerous.”

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