ISIS is said to have suffered key setbacks in Syria, with US-led coalition forces grabbing more turf in the terror group’s self-declared capital of Raqqa and the Syrian military seizing a key eastern city.
The conflict, which started in 2011, has resulted in the deaths of an estimated 400,000 Syrians and the displacement of millions.
ISIS’ hold on Raqqa has eroded. Eighty-five percent of the city has been liberated from the terror group, the US-led Combined Joint Task Force said Saturday.
In a written statement, the task force told CNN that “steady progress” was being made in defeating ISIS in the group’s stronghold.
Fighting is expected in the days ahead, but a specific timeline for the defeat of ISIS hasn’t been determined, it said.
About 100 ISIS soldiers had surrendered; they were removed from Raqqa, and 1,500 civilians were able to evacuate the city safely this week, the task force said.
As fighting persists, civilians in Raqqa were to leave in an evacuation plan brokered between tribal elders and a local council, the US-led coalition said.
People leaving the city will be subject to search by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, a coalition of mostly Kurdish and some Arab militias. Authorities want to make sure ISIS members trying to escape aren’t among the civilians.
The Syrian army recaptured the city of al-Mayadeen on Saturday after heavy fighting against ISIS, the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency said. Al-Mayadeen is nearly 45 kilometers (28 miles) from Deir Ezzor.
The army killed large numbers of ISIS fighters and destroyed their weapons and equipment, SANA reported.
“Army units are chasing remnants of ISIS terrorists out of al-Mayadeen while the engineering units are clearing land mines left in the town,” the agency said.
SANA said control of the city is a key step toward ousting the group in the Euphrates region.
US officials believe ISIS has housed much of its leadership as well as up to 10,000 fighters in the Middle Euphrates River Valley.