US-backed Syrian force attacks ISIS enclave

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BAGHOUZ, Syria (Reuters) - The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) launched an assault on Sunday against the final Islamic State enclave in eastern Syria, aiming to wipe out the last vestige of its self-declared "caliphate" that once spanned a third of Iraq and Syria.


While the Baghouz enclave represents the last shred of populated land held by the jihadists, the group is still widely seen as a big security threat with remote territory elsewhere and the continued capacity to launch guerrilla attacks.

The SDF, spearheaded by the Kurdish YPG militia, has been poised to advance into the enclave for weeks, but has repeatedly held back to allow for the evacuation of civilians, many of them wives and children of Islamic State fighters.

Mustafa Bali, head of the SDF media office, said no further civilians had emerged from the enclave at the Iraqi border since Saturday and the SDF had not observed any more civilians in the area, prompting the decision to attack.

"The military operations have started. Our forces are now clashing with the terrorists and the attack started," he said.

Tens of thousands of people have streamed out of the shrinking territory held by Islamic State over the last months.

Bali said more than 4,000 militants had surrendered to the SDF in the past month.

Earlier on Sunday, a Reuters correspondent saw SDF forces advance into a tented area of Baghouz after Islamic State fighters withdrew from it. SDF fighters gathered some ammunition and rifles left behind by the jihadists.

A fighter from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) sits at a back of a truck, near the village of Baghouz, Deir Al Zor province, in Syria March 9, 2019. Picture taken March 9, 2019. REUTERS/Rodi Said

Shortly after Navy SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher allegedly murdered a wounded ISIS prisoner, about half a dozen of his SEAL teammates watched as one SEAL flew a drone around their compound and hovered it just inches over the dead man's body.

It was yet another ethical lapse for the men of SEAL Team 7 Alpha Platoon, many of whom had just taken a group photograph with the deceased victim after their commander had held an impromptu reenlistment ceremony for Gallagher near the body. Although some expressed remorse in courtroom testimony over their participation in the photo, video footage from later that morning showed a number of SEALs acted with little regard for the remains of Gallagher's alleged victim.

The video — which was shown to the jury and courtroom spectators last week in the trial of Gallagher — was recently obtained by Task & Purpose.

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Learn more about 'Squad' here

(Reuters photo)

DUBAI (Reuters) - President Donald Trump threatened on Tuesday to obliterate parts of Iran if the Islamic Republic attacked "anything American," as Iran said the latest U.S. sanctions had closed off any chance of diplomacy.

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"In some areas, overwhelming will mean obliteration," the U.S. president tweeted.

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