WASHINGTON — U.S.-supported anti-ISIS ground forces have resumed their assault against the last ground position of ISIS after a deadline to surrender passed.
“The timeline that we (gave) for ISIS to surrender themselves is over,” Mustafa Bali, a spokesperson for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), said in a statement Sunday. “Our forces (are) ready now to start and finish what is left in ISIS hands.”
A deadline for ISIS members to surrender and depart the town of Baghouz expired on Sunday and the SDF — the predominately Kurdish based ground force of the anti-ISIS coalition — resumed the assault that had been paused for several weeks.
Col. Sean Ryan, a spokesperson for Operation Inherent Resolve, said in a statement over the weekend that the number of ISIS fighters and civilians that had remained in Baghouz had been underestimated. The pause permitted thousands of civilians to be evacuated, many who remain ISIS supporters, as well as permit ISIS members willing to surrender to do so.
The ISIS elements had been surrounded in a one-square-mile of territory in the city.
Bali said Sunday, in part of a Tweet, that “direct violent clashes” have started as the assault got underway.
Capturing Baghouz will end the land caliphate that ISIS once claimed over parts of eastern Syria and western Iraq, a holding the size of Great Britain, military officials have said. The battle to dislodge them started in 2014.