A fighter from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) sits at a back of a truck, near the village of Baghouz, Deir Al Zor province, in Syria March 9, 2019. Picture taken March 9, 2019. REUTERS/Rodi Said
DEIR AL-ZOR PROVINCE, Syria (Reuters) - The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said on Sunday that their frontline troops had received orders to attack the final Islamic State enclave in eastern Syria, and the assault could begin at any moment.
The advance on the besieged enclave at Baghouz, near the Iraqi border, has stalled repeatedly to allow for the evacuation of civilians.
Mustafa Bali, head of the SDF media office, said no more civilians had come out of the enclave since Saturday, and SDF forces had not observed any more civilians in the area.
“Frontline forces have received orders to move”, he said. “This evening, we expect movement at any moment.”
U.S.-backed SDF says attack on last Islamic State enclave has begun
Thousands of people - many of them the wives of Islamic State fighters and their children - have been streaming out of the enclave over the last few weeks.
Bali said more than 4,000 militants had surrendered to the SDF in the past month and tens of thousands of civilians had been evacuated.
“Our forces are ready now to start and finish what is left in ISIS hands,” Bali said in a separate comment on Twitter.
Reporting by Rodi Said in Deir al-Zor; Writing by Lisa Barrington; Editing by Kevin Liffey/Tom Perry