IS on brink of defeat in Syria enclave

A fighter from the Syrian Democratic Forces gives bread to children near the village of Baghouz

A fighter from the Syrian Democratic Forces gives bread to children near the village of Baghouz

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance has said it is waiting for their removal before launching an offensive against militants "entrenched inside".

The SDF had expected to pull the last non-combatants from Baghouz on Thursday, but trucks it sent in left empty.

The SDF was working to evacuate some remaining civilians in Baghouz, Bali said.

Taking it will nudge the eight-year-old Syrian war towards a new phase, with US President Donald Trump's pledge to withdraw troops leaving a security vacuum that other powers are seeking to fill.

The SDF has previously estimated several hundred fighters - believed mostly to be foreign - are still inside a small tent city on the outskirts of Baghouz.

In recent days, civilians have been evacuated from the village.

SDF officials say once all remaining civilians have been evacuated, they intend to clear Baghuz of IS for good. "We don't know why they are not coming out".

A commander with a USA -backed Syrian force says back-to-back suicide auto bombings in a market in eastern Syria have killed at least 14 people.

ISIL "cells are trying to stop our progress", Adnan Afrin told AFP news agency.

FILE PHOTO: Fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) drink tea in the village of Baghouz, Deir Al Zor province, Syria, February 18, 2019.

The SDF took control of the Omar oil field in October 2017, and have turned it into their main base in the area.

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It was not known who carried out the bombing.

Residents say attacks have increased in recent months in SDF-controlled areas.

Many have ended up in camps like al-Hol in northeastern Syria, unsure of what will become of them.

Iraqi sources said the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which has besieged the last IS enclave near the Iraqi border, handed over more than 150 Iraqi and other foreign jihadists to Iraq on Thursday, under a deal involving a total of 502.

SDF's Bali, however, denied the claim.

"The majority of them are Iraqis and the convoy was under maximum security protection headed to the Jazeera and Badiya military headquarters", the mayor of the Iraqi border town of Al Qaim, Ahmed Al Mahallawi, told Reuters.

Clain is a seasoned jihadist, who was found guilty of helping send extremists to fight U.S. forces in Iraq in 2009 before leaving himself to live in Islamic State's self-proclaimed caliphate six years later.

Both bases are located in Anbar province.

The official said the IS militants were handed over to the Iraqi side late Wednesday, and that they were now in a "safe place" and being investigated.

"The vehicle bomb was detonated remotely in the village of Shheel" close to the Omar oil field acting as a base for the People's Protection Units (YPG)-dominated SDF, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

It's said that the SDF fighters, with troops of the US -led coalition against ISIL, waited at a position on Baghouz's outskirts to question the evacuees and record their names.

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