Hundreds of Islamic State (IS) fighters holed up in Baghuz (Deir Al-Zor province) surrendered to US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on Thursday, March 14, amid a pause in the SDF offensive. Some 112 militants have been killed since the SDF resumed its offensive in recent days on the last IS-held enclave east of the Euphrates River in Deir Al-Zor province; IS militants, for their part, have launched over 20 suicide bombing attacks targeting the US-backed forces in recent days.
Continued fighting between SDF fighters and remaining IS militants in the Baghuz area is to be expected over the coming days.
IS has lost most of the territory it once controlled in Iraq and Syria after suffering major military defeats following its 2014 offensive. A military victory for SDF forces over IS militants in Baghuz would mark the jihadist group's effective territorial defeat in eastern Syria, though IS retains control over some desert areas west of the Euphrates River.
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 the jihadist group's control, notably including Raqqa, Al-Tabqah, and Manbij.
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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