IS down to less than 1% of original 'caliphate': US-led coalition

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The U.S. -backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) started on Saturday the final attacks against the Islamic State (IS) militant group in eastern Syria, Kurdish activists reported.

Bali went on to note that over the last 10 days, the SDF had handled the battle "patiently" as residents of villages located near the Daesh enclave near Iraqi border were evacuated.

"The battle will be launched this evening and its mission will be to eliminate the last remnants of the terrorist organisation", Mustafa Bali, the head of the SDF media office, said.

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria's (ISIS) "caliphate" has shrunk to less than 1 per cent of its original size, the US-led coalition has said, as a final onslaught in eastern Syria loomed.

In a brief statement posted on its website, the Syrian Democratic Forces said the push began on Saturday night and was focused on the village of Baghouz, on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River in the southeastern Syria province of Deir al-Zour.

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US President Donald Trump predicted that the once-sprawling proto-state's official defeat could be proclaimed as early as next week but operations have been paused for days on the main front line.

"There is of course a safe corridor and civilians are coming out daily, and this reduces their number in Baghouz until we can be sure the town is free of civilians".

Kurdish authorities say they have in their custody hundreds of foreign male ISIS members.

IS overran large parts of Syria and neighbouring Iraq in 2014, declaring a "caliphate" in areas it controlled.

More than 37,000 people, mostly wives and children of militants, have fled IS territory since the SDF intensified its offensive in December, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

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"Remnants - that's all they have, remnants - but remnants can be very unsafe", Trump said.

The Britain-based war monitor has said that figure includes some 3,200 suspected militants.

"We remain a long way from peace in Syria", said Merkel, adored by numerous more than 550,000 Syrians who have found refuge in Germany after she decided in 2015 to open the country's borders to nearly a million asylum seekers.

The Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) and their female equivalent, the Women's Protection Units (YPJ), have formed the backbone of the SDF. Families who lived under the grip of ISIS until the bitter end.

This suits his agenda of withdrawing all U.S. troops from Syria.

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