Western leaders are working to reach an agreement with the US over northeastern Syria, according to a European official, as US President Donald Trump reissued calls for European nations to repatriate Islamic State fighters on the final day of the Munich Security Conference.
The US President said on Saturday (local time) the militant group was "ready to fall", a day after signalling there would be "great announcements" about Syria over the next 24 hours.
US Vice President Mike Pence, meanwhile, told the MSC that Washington would continue to "hunt down the remnants of ISIS wherever and whenever they rear their ugly heads".
USA -backed fighters in Syria are poised to capture Islamic State's last, tiny enclave on the Euphrates, the battle commander said on Saturday, bringing its self-declared caliphate to the brink of total defeat.
But with American forces about to withdraw from Syria, there is concern as to what will happen to these detainees if Turkey - as expected - attacks Kurdish-held areas.
Iraq's military has already shifted how it combats the group, moving away from major combat operations to what Votel calls "wide-area" operations.
"Thousands of civilians are still trapped there as human shields", he said on Saturday.
Though ISIS fighters still hold out in a pocket of central Syria's remote desert, and have gone underground as sleeper cells in Iraqi cities, able to launch new attacks, their territorial rule is, for now, nearly over. The SDF had to slow its approach as a result, he said.
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Richard Blumenthal of CT said the first meeting led to "a stark and stunning lack of any action [or] progress". These capabilities continue to hold the United States, the Republic of Korea and our regional allies at risk".
But SDF commanders insist the official end of the group's hold on territory in Syria is near.
Now all that remains, Jiya Furat said, was an encircled 700-square-metre pocket.
USA officials have said repeatedly that even once the last pocket of IS-held territory is taken, the fight will not be over.
Furat's comments were carried by Kurdish news agencies, including Hawar News.
Spokesman Mustafa Bali told Reuters the SDF had caught several militants who tried to flee among the civilians while others had handed themselves over. Bali added that the SDF believes that ISIS gunmen are also holding previously kidnapped Syrians in the area. His brother, also an SDF fighter, was taken hostage by ISIL in the last weeks of fighting.
That's the update reporters received Saturday from the commander of the US -backed Syrian Democratic Forces, Jia Furat.
In Deir el-Zour, the SDF and the USA -led coalition have battled to uproot the militants from a series of small villages and towns on the eastern banks of the Euphrates since September.
"In the coming few days, very shortly, we will broadcast the good news to the world, to all the people of the region, the Kurds, the Arabs, the Assyrians, all the people of the region, of the military end of the ISIS terrorist group", he added. Some ISIS members have gone underground into tunnel systems along the Iraq-Syria border. The group has claimed responsibility in recent months for deadly attacks, mostly in Iraq, more than a year after the Iraqi government said the extremists have been defeated after losing the northern city of Mosul in 2017, the largest they held.