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US-Backed Force Denies Report of Islamic State’s Final Defeat

Smoke rises from the Islamic State (IS) group's last remaining position in the village of Baghuz during battles with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), in the countryside of the eastern Syrian province of Deir el-Zour, March 20, 2019.

The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) denied a report Thursday that all of Islamic State’s final enclave has been captured after a Kurdish media outlet said the jihadist group had been finally defeated there.

“Combing continues in the Baghuz camp and there is no truth (to the report) about the complete liberation of the village,” an SDF media official said, quoting the commanders of the offensive.

Earlier, Hawar News reported the SDF had “liberated all of Baghuz from the Daesh mercenaries” and with that the campaign had “ended with the defeat of Daesh and the victory of the SDF,” quoting its correspondents.

Daesh is an Arabic acronym for Islamic State.

Islamic State’s final defeat at Baghuz will end its territorial rule that once spanned a third of Iraq and Syria.

The SDF on Tuesday captured an encampment where the jihadists had been mounting a last defense of the tiny enclave, pushing diehard fighters onto a sliver of land at the Euphrates riverside.

U.S. President Donald Trump said Wednesday that a “tiny spot” of remaining IS territory would be “gone by tonight.”

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, whose country has participated in the campaign, said Wednesday he expected the announcement of the “final territorial defeat” to be made in the “next few days.”