Islamic State (IS) militants carried out several suicide bombings and other attacks targeting US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters near Baghuz Fawqani (Deir Al-Zor province) on Monday, February 11, amid an SDF offensive launched on Saturday, February 9, to retake control of the Salafi-jihadist group's last territorial holdings on the Euphrates River in eastern Syria. Per reports from the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) on Tuesday, February 12, at least 12 SDF fighters and 19 IS militants have been killed in intense clashes in the area in recent days. An Italian photojournalist was also reportedly wounded in the fighting. IS militants were continuing to carry out counterattacks in the area as of Tuesday, according to Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) Spokesman Colonel Sean Ryan.
Heavy fighting between SDF fighters and IS militants is to be expected around Baghuz Fawqani over the coming days as the US-backed offensive continues.
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 Civil War - which began in 2011 - 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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