As of early December, US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters have advanced into Hajin (Deir Al-Zor province), one of the last towns controlled by Islamic State (IS) militants. The offensive comes as US-led coalition forces and allied SDF fighters continue to attempt to clear an estimated remaining 2000 IS militants from the Middle Euphrates River Valley (MERV) as part of Operation Roundup, launched on May 1. Ongoing clashes, described as the most violent since SDF fighters began their assault on Hajin in September, have left at least 80 SDF and IS fighters dead since Monday, December 3. Continuing clashes between US-backed SDF fighters and IS militants are to be expected in Hajin and surrounding areas over the coming days and weeks.
The SDF is a US-backed umbrella group of militias, led by the primarily Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), and a belligerent in the Syrian Civil War. The SDF has ousted IS from several areas formerly under its control, notably including Raqqa, Al-Tabqah, and Manbij. IS has lost most of the territory it once controlled in Iraq and Syria after suffering major military defeats following its 2014 offensive.
To date, the Syrian conflict involves many parties, including the Syrian government, the Russian government, the Iranian government, the Turkish government, a US-led coalition, and numerous armed groups on the ground (including the Islamic State) with competing goals.
Due to extremely poor security conditions, Western governments generally advise against all travel to Syria, with some banning travel to the country. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to any travel to Syria.
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